There are certain seminal events that shaped the America we live in today. You can look to the mini stock market crash of 1987 and September 11, 2001. Both provided key instances that changed or steered society in a certain direction.
The O.J. Simpson trial was not only one of those events, but it affected a broad range of American life. Combined with Gulf War and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, these stories likely created the modern day 24-hour cable news cycle. Some may not remember this, but CNN, Fox News and MSNBC couldn’t draw flies before the first Gulf War.
O.J. plus another key event in Rodney King highlighted the racial divide in this country that never healed. It waited for America’s first black president to be elected for those same divisions to reveal themselves again. As Chris Rock once put it, “Black people too happy; white people too mad!”
Moreover, 10 years before Survivor, MTV’s The Real World and the O.J. trial shaped and helped define the reality TV era. I could argue Twitter and Instagram were inspired by the jury selection during the O.J. trial.
Against that monumental pop culture backdrop, FX’s American Crime Story anthology offers up The People vs. O.J. Simpson as its first miniseries style 10-episode season. For those who remember the O.J. saga as it happened, The People vs. O.J. Simpson doubles as a fine period piece as well. This show is your chance to understand the flaming fame pit from whence Nancy Grace, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Tila Tequila and the other dark creatures of reality television sprung.
All historical significance aside, as a dramatic device, The People vs. O.J. Simpson is quite a compelling courtroom/true crime drama, and the looming racial overtones seem somehow even more relevant today than they did back in the post-Rodney King days.
Forget any criticisms you may have heard thrown out about this show; American Crime Story’s The People vs. O.J. Simpson is damn good television on many levels and is well worth the 10 hours of viewing time. Heck, some people spent 10 hours a day watching O.J. in the ‘90s.
TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet. Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on? Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email: [email protected]. I welcome your input!