American Crime Story | Series 1 Review

This show is something that I would never normally watch. I wasn’t even born when the events of the show were taking place, I had never heard of OJ Simpson and I wasn’t an American citizen. However, Sarah Paulson was starring in it so I decided to give it a watch. And I was immediately hooked. I cannot stress just how much I adored this show and how brilliant it is. It is terribly hard to keep an audience intrigued and interested in a show where the outcome of the story is already known to the public – this show is based of very real events and follows the events of the OJ Simpson trial as closely as they could – but this show achieves just that. The tension is unbelievable. I felt physically tired after watching each episode because the suspense is so palpable in the characters and their emotions and the long, drawn out moments of silence. I thought that every actor in this show was incredible and I particularly loved all of the character development that happens during the ten episodes. I think this is the start of something truly special and I am so excited for the next series because if it’s even half as good as this, it will be amazing.

Primarily, the events of this show take place within the courtroom and spending so large a time within the same space could quickly become boring for an audience. However, this show manages to keep you hooked throughout. Each episode was focusing on a different part of the trial from the jury to a specific piece of evidence and this meant that there were many different elements being shown to the audience which kept them intrigued, without the need for extravagant set changes. The show also focused on the lives of the prosecuting and defence teams which was very refreshing to watch – especially when the events of the trial could get a bit heavy. This show did not shy away from showing some of the harsh truths about our current world, particularly towards the judicial system and the way our society works. I found some of these elements fascinating and even if you care very little about law or OJ Simpson or the realities of the media, there’s still something to keep you interested.

Considering the whole show is based around OJ Simpson, I didn’t actually like his character very much. And perhaps this was the point. One of the main points of this show is to show how a person’s status can make them seem almost God-like in the eyes of the people and this, in turn, means that that person can get away with pretty much anything because no one will, or at least want to, believe that they actually did it. The show touched on this fact quite a lot and this is something that still applies today; people who hold status or money or is loved by the people can get away with a whole magnitude of crimes that a regular person would never have a chance with.

What’s also particularly interesting is that the large majority of the characters portrayed in the show are still alive today and it’s shocking to think that pretty much all of the events in the show actually happened. At the time, no one was being particularly nice to Marcia Clark and while I absolutely loved Sarah Paulson’s performance, I also now greatly admire the real life Marcia Clark for dealing with being in the public eye and having to do a very hard job in a very male dominated world. The media threw everything at her, and I think this show also shows very clearly the ways that sexism are still very much in force today – even though this show is set in the 90s. None of the tactics that the media use against Marcia would ever happen to a man and Marcia, as the only central female character, is practically alone in dealing with everything.

There are a lot of morally ambiguous characters in this show and it’s not a case of whether you like them or not, but rather your perspective. Throughout the show, I was convinced that Marcia and the prosecuting team were in the right and the defense and OJ Simspon were in the wrong. But as the show throws out theory after theory, your perspective can very easily change to the other side, and this is something that I think makes a show like this fascinating. There’s no good or bad characters; there’s no ‘good’ team or ‘bad’ team. Johnnie Cochran isn’t the villain. Neither is Marcia Clark. Neither is OJ Simpson. Neither is Judge Ito. Everyone is as valid as everyone else and the true events still aren’t known to this day. It’s just a matter of perspective.

Books have been published, opinions have been formed and you might think that OJ Simpson has always been innocent or guilty but your perspective does not detract from this show. In fact, it makes everything much more emotive and powerful. You want your ‘side’ to win, yet you know the true events and you can do nothing to stop them. It’s like a train hurtling down the tracks and you’re yelling at it to stop but the whistle is too loud. Personally, I was on team Marcia. Another thing I really appreciated was how this show kept its message throughout and kept its focus on the victims, which is what everything been about since day one. I think this show approached the OJ Simpson case in a very sensitive and respectful and I really loved the short section at the end of the final episode showing where those involved in the case went next in their lives. And then the episode finished with a quiet moment to reflect on the two victims in all this. Nicole and Ron.

It’s been a week since I finished this show and I still keep thinking about it every day. I thought it was interesting and powerful and complex and even if this is not something that you would watch and something that you don’t think you’d like in a million years, I strongly suggest you give this a watch because it is simply superb. In my perspective at least.

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