'The People v. O.J. Simpson': Hindsight is 20-20
True crime shows are something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I couldn't tell you why. But if I have some down time and I see "Investigation Discovery," "The First 48" or "Dateline" is on, I'm watching it. That's why when "American Crime Story" kicked off, I was all about it. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" quickly became a staple, even though it was less true crime more fictionalized reenactment crime, I was here for it. Every single Tuesday.
I don't remember too many specific details about the trial as it was happening back in '94-'95. I was too busy doing baller shit like becoming a teenager, graduating from 8th grade and starting high school. I didn't follow the details of the trial all that closely at the time. But starting with that Bronco chase, I do remember it being huge news. I vividly remember it being EVERYWHERE for like a year. And I certainly remember the feeling at the time. There was a clear point of racial divide: the people who thought O.J. didn't do it (mostly black) and the people who thought O.J. did (mostly white).
I can't say I was super familiar with who O.J. Simpson was or how just how big his celebrity status was back then. I knew him primarily from the Naked Gun movies (shoutout to Leslie Nielsen). But O.J. being a huge football legend was completely lost on me.
I realize this is similar to today's 20-somethings who are more familiar with MJ because of the Cry Face meme than his actual basketball dominance. Dammit.
Verdict day was huge, though. It was like the whole country was on pause. I can think of nothing else that stopped the entire country in its tracks like that until 9/11 happened. I remember being on my way to lunch when it was announced. NOT GUILTY. The reaction was swift and sudden throughout the building. Some cheers, some jeers. Racially divided.
Fast forward to now I've see more documentaries, interviews and stories about the trial since then. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" gave me even more background info and helped me put names and titles to faces and better understand some of the relationship dynamics (e.g. I never understood the who/why of Kato Kaelin).
The first couple of episodes, though, many of us were super annoyed because they kept shoving the Kardashians down our throats. WE GET IT, FX. NOT ONLY WAS ROBERT KARDASHIAN O.J.'s FRIEND, BUT HE USED TO BE MARRIED TO KRIS JENNER AND IS KIM & N'EM'S DADDY AND NORTH AND SAINT'S GRANDDADDY AND, OH, HIS LAST NAME IS KARDASHIAN, TOO. WE GOT IT, THANKS.
Aside from those unnecessary tangents, I thought the series was excellent. The hair/make-up/costuming was spot on. And the casting was superb. Even though Cuba Gooding Jr. did a great job as O.J., to me he was out-shined by the the rest of the cast. John Travolta as Bob Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Rob Kardashian and Sterling K. Brown as Chris Darden. Bruh. Not to mention, Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance both deserve Emmys for their portrayals of Marcia Clark and Johnny Cochran.
Looking back now, too, you also see just how things fell apart for the prosecution. For everybody, really. The Simpson trial was about SO MUCH MORE than this one particular case. The racial climate was hot following the Rodney King non-verdict and the LA riots (which, hello, is still familiar #MikeBrown #TrayvonMartin #SeanBell #SandraBland). Johnny Cochran knew that and played to peoples emotions, prejudices and biases in the courtroom, through media and any other means at his disposal. Not to mention having backup from some of the best lawyers money could buy at the time. Marcia Clark and team didn't know what hit them. You would think sticking with the facts, not playing the game, would be enough, especially if all the evidence works in your favor. But, not so. And to top it off, you had that God-awful Furhman in the mix.
The sad part is that in all this, the Brown & Goldman families became collateral damage. They didn't get justice. And dealt with a circus of a trial that dragged on for months. I can't help but wonder where some of those jurors are today and if they still agree with their decision.
Everybody brings their own biases to the table. The jury, the lawyers, the judges, the cops, everybody. Which makes the justice system inherently flawed, in my opinion. I digress.
ESPN is airing a five-part "30 for 30" on O.J. coming this June, so there will be more. And, obvi, I will be watching. Maybe I'll learn a lil' something about his football career, eh?