Few things are certain in this world. I had eggs for breakfast. I like books and movies. O.J. killed her.
As someone who was barely alive during the actual criminal trial, I have been blessed with the resurgence of “the trial of the century.” I could not look away from The People vs. O.J. Simpson on FX, and when I heard this documentary was excellent, I made time to watch it.
It says a lot about our culture that we’re still hung up on this. It was never just a criminal trial. It was a story from the very beginning, reality television of the most startling sort, and it’s no wonder we ate it up. You couldn’t see the twists coming, even if you could tell it was all falling apart.
The documentary, produced and directed by Ezra Edelman, chronicles the divine rise of Simpson and his meteoric fall. Over the course of around eight hours, you witness the inflation of his ego and the building racial tensions in Los Angeles. Just over two of the five parts are dedicated to the trial itself, and it’s like you’re there again–or for the first time, if you’re my age. The final part, after the verdict, deals with the aftermath, leading all the way up through his 2008 arrest and sentencing.
Nearly everyone involved is interviewed, everyone alive. By the end of it, you realize that even his closest friends are sure he did it. One of the jurors confesses that the Not Guilty verdict was payback for Rodney King, and yet another argues that it was punishment for a disorganized prosecution. You may think you know everything, but you don’t. Ron Shipp, longtime friend of Simpson, learned a few things from it.
Watching this, you’re probably going to realize you can’t stop. As soon as I found it on demand, it occupied every second of free time until I finished. This case did not define America; it was defined by America. We watched the O.J. Simpson trial for the same reason we tune in to see Donald Trump. Nobody won in this case, not even O.J. Simpson. And frankly, we deserved what we got.
O.J.: Made in America is available on demand. The finale airs this evening on ESPN.