Review: American Crime Story: People Vs O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story Season 1 Review

Contains Spoilers

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THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “The “Verdict” Episode 110 (Airs Tuesday, April 5, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: (l-r) Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

Does Ryan Murphy have another major TV series on his hands? How will the series depict events we already know the ending to? Is the material worth having such an all-star cast?  Here is my review of American Crime Story Season 1.

Pros:

  • The greatest ensemble of the year. No one performance was lacking. This certainly was an actors showcase, where the show was driven by the performances.
  • Sarah Paulson is absolutely phenomenal and should finally win herself an Emmy after what feels like 100 nominations.
  • Paulson’s Marcia Clark was brilliantly handled, providing audiences with an image of both an intelligent and strong women, yet one that was still vulnerable and lonely.
  • Vance was also spectacular as Johnnie Cochran, bringing a demanding, arresting presence.
  • Furthermore Paulson and Vance perfectly bounced off each other and their moments of sympathy for eachother were some of the shows strongest.
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. didn’t have heaps of material to work with, with only a small variety of emotions to show, but he did well enough with what he could, especially in the finale.
  • John Travolta started a little shaky but eventually grasped Shapiro’s unique patterns and role, providing both comedy and emotion.
  • The show was able to clearly focus on the main characters, yet also highlight the importance of the supporting players such as the jurors and other lawyers and support team, each with their own individual personalities that kept the show feeling fresh and realistic.
  • The show purposefully made sure there were no ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’ with each character being fully fleshed out.
  • The show was not influenced by the writers or creators own opinions on the case, and therefore no character or side was villified or made to look worse than the other.
  • The direction was marvellous throughout, especially in making sure the big moments and reveals within the court scenes had impact.
  • The writing helped the audience feel like a jury member. It was balanced and didn’t over invest in one side more than another. The reveal of the evidence was written in a way to make it memorable, allowing the viewer to ponder over it like a juror.
  • While the show definitely integrated a discussion of racism and justice into the narrative, relevant to the actual case, many of the key points were focussed upon as a means of showing that they are still important in modern times.
  • The show certainly focussed on the case, but the presence of each character’s personal beliefs, actions and feelings was definitely felt and a good balance was created between the two.
  • The quick pacing meant that the court stages never dragged or were not over indulgent in detail or fact. Everything was clear and understandable.
  • Cliffhangers never felt cheesy or unneeded but again were positioned to make the audience feel like they were a juror or someone viewing the actual court case, shocked and wanting to know more.
  • The show succeeded in making the viewer aware of how the defense won as well as making the show interesting and addicting even though we already knew the ending.

Cons

  • Due to the much-needed time jumps, some of the relationships between characters often quickly changed without any information or reasoning given to the audience. One minute two characters are frustrated with each other, the next they are friends.
  • There were a few moments where the writing made the shock and awe of a reveal or action the focus, which distracted from needed character development.

 

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