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American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, A Long-Awaited Success

February 5, 2016

The Wall Street Journal

American Crime Story’s concept is attention grabbing as is, so I had high expectations for the premiere. I must say, as I had expected, the show really delivered. As an avid fan of American Horror Story, I was excited to learn that the same creators were behind the concept of this series (the name should have been a giveaway). American Horror Story darling Sarah Paulson, a personal favorite of mine, also stars in the dramatization of the OJ Simpson case.

The opening sequence of American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson set the scene for the show to come with flashes of images and articles from the real OJ Simpson case from 1995 that the show is based on.

While choosing to depict this case in a TV show could easily have just been a boring retelling to a new generation who may not be so familiar with it, on the contrary it was a minutely stylized, gripping fifty-something minutes. The particular style of creator/producers Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, which made American Horror Story so refreshing, is present in the best way possible.

Music is a very important element in Falchuk and Murphy’s shows, and ACS is no exception. The pounding, eerie music that signals something is about to happen was instrumental in bringing crucial scenes together. Notably, when a poor, dog walking neighbor finds the body of OJ Simpson’s wife and her (to be determined) lover, the music combined with the camera action elevated your run of the mill “there’s a body!” moment.

Another element that recurs in Falchuk and Murphy shows is the exaggeration of character types, almost to the point of caricature. The whole episode felt theatrical without being over the top. This style is seen in David Schwimmer’s wide-eyed portrayal of Robert Kardashian, the loyal to a fault best buddy of OJ “Juice” Simpson, and Sarah Paulson’s man-hating single mother. Let us not forget the main man of the show, Cuba Gooding Jr. His charming portrayal of Simpson adds an element of unease to the show. We see his panic, yet we also see a man who is panicking justly in a situation where it seems as though people are trying to pin a crime on him.

Over all, this is a must-watch for any American Horror Story or crime show fans. It truly has a unique air that appears to be, at least based on the first episode, to be an extremely intriguing adaptation of the OJ Simpson case. The first episode felt like a breath of fresh air in a world of identical crime shows. Judging by the excellent ratings received so far, I think viewers can be excited for what’s to come for this show, even beyond this first season.


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