Saturday, March 11, 2017

The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

A couple of weeks ago I watched all episodes of The People vs OJ Simpson, and the entire time I was wishing I had just read the book instead. I like Toobin's style and his detail, and the TV version seemed miscast to me. I seriously thought John Travolta was playing for laughs and had to ask my brother if it was supposed to be funny. Cuba Gooding Jr. did not convey the style of arrogance that I remember OJ projecting at the time, and in his strongest emotional moments he seemed merely petulant. David Schwimmer spent the entire series with the same idiotic expression on his face.

Race and racial tension are a crucial part of the story, and the TV show did a good job of centralizing it. But I don't think it contextualized it as well as it could have. Scenes of people arguing on the streets, and newscasters expressing fears about riots helped convey the way this case tapped into so many nerves, but it still seemed TV-movie-ish, and fell flat for me.

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