It’s hard to tear myself away from my British and Scandinavian detectives, vicars, and vicar-detectives, but occasionally I stray from the corpse-ridden dales and fjords, and have a grisly wallow in true crime closer to home. Recently a young family member told me, with a tone of surprise, that the FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is worth watching. It’s streaming on Netflix now, so I gave it a go.
Two episodes in, and the whole sordid tale, and my own life in 1994, came rushing back to me. I was a government trial lawyer at the time. Like everyone else, I was horrified and riveted by the Simpson case, but since my long days were spent stressing about procedural tangles, deposition testimony and motions to do this and that, the last way I wanted to spend my free time was to catch up on that high-stakes hot mess of a case. In those days before Twitter, if you wanted to avoid a news story, it was almost possible.
I’m not sure if I’ll get all the way through the television rendition without having an anxiety attack and/or overwhelming nostalgia for the shouldery suits I used to wear, but so far The People v. O.J. Simpson is a well-told tale of all the ways things can go wrong, for everyone, all the time. There is very little redemption in this story.
There is amusement to be found in some of the casting: Ross from Friends as Robert Kardashian is both ironic and perfect; I’m not so sure about John Travolta as Robert Shapiro.
It’s pretty easy to knit to this one if you followed the case the first time around. The crime scenes and Bronco chase, Marcia’s hair and Johnnie Cochran’s suits, are all burned in the memory. so there is no need to pause the recording to count stitches.