The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’s Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski hoped their explosive 10-hour miniseries would get America talking about the colliding racial, gender, and class politics that helped football hero and accused killer Orenthal James Simpson beat the murder rap of the century.
What they couldn’t predict was that their FX series would get Americans obsessively re-hooked on the soapy sensationalism and forgotten minutae of the 21-year-old case that divided the country and ignited a new era of true crime tabloid obsession two decades ago.
“We’re very happy with the response this show has gotten,” Karaszewski told The Daily Beast ahead of Tuesday’s season finale. “The fact that it’s getting this level of discourse and it seems to be more than just a ratings hit, people seem to be talking about the issues again. It’s probably the most gratifying thing that’s ever happened to Scott and I.”
In a post-The Jinx and Making a Murderer world, the criminal justice genre is enjoying a major cultural renaissance—moreso when the subject of our collective fascination is onetime NFL superstar Simpson (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.), who was acquitted for the brutal 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman but never shook off the stain of public suspicion.
A 1997 civil case found The Juice liable for their grisly deaths, to the tune of a $33.5 million judgment to the Brown and Goldman families; just over a decade later, 13 years to the day of his acquittal, Simpson was found guilty on felony robbery and kidnapping charges and sent to prison for 33 years.
“One of the bigger surprises is the rebirth of the O.J. cottage industry, which we totally did not predict,” Karaszewski marveled. “The Esquire Network is doing twelve straight hours on it, the ESPN documentary [O.J.: Made in America] is six hours on it, Martin Sheen is coming out with a show [called O.J. Is Innocent]—there’s all this stuff that’s come back because the public seems so hungry for more information.”
What’s remarkable about the debut season of the Ryan Murphy-produced American Crime Story is how deftly it retells a saga the public already thought they knew inside and out, paying unprecedented attention to the personal trials and tribulations of major players like prosecutor Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) and her co-counsel Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown) to showboating Dream Teamers Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) and his frenemy, Robert Shapiro (John Travolta).
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SOURCE: JEN YAMATO
The Daily Beast