It may be a little wrong to necessarily classify “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” as a battle of good versus evil, but it is a battle of the lawful versus the lawless. It one corner, we have the prosecution, a group of people willing to use tricks to the extent of them being moral gray areas. For the defense, they threw out the book of right and wrong long ago. As Johnnie Cochran makes it clear in this episode, he was to “win,” and is willing to do whatever he can to make it happen.
There was no better example during Tuesday night’s new episode than when the jury paid a visit to OJ’s home, only to see it adorned with more culturally-specific artwork and material that is not a reflection of him as a person. This was yet another ploy to get the jury on his side, much as there was a setup to get the upper hand on the prosecution with a list of witnesses. It’s their job to ensure that they find OJ not guilty, and while it may be easy to not approve of their actions, they are paid to do so. Even if they believe Simpson to be a guilty man, it does not necessarily matter.
In this episode OJ came across more as narcissistic than anything else, interested in persevering his image and making sure he was understood … really to the point where he was willing to undermine himself in the eyes of the jury. Cuba Gooding Jr. continues to win in this role, though Courtney B. Vance is really stealing the show right now as Cochran. The flashback to a pullover by the police more than a decade before the trial was an effective way to showcase his history with the District Attorney, and also why he knows better than anyone the state of racial politics in Los Angeles.
Is race the be-all, end-all for the jury in the Simpson murder? No, and we think this episode (entitled “The Race Card”) actually showed that through all of the posturing, there is still a murder case at the center of everything. What this episode showed more than anything else when it comes to race is that everyone on all sides seems to be so desperate to think that it is critical that perhaps it is leading to mistakes.
To date, “The People vs. OJ Simpson” remains stellar TV, and now that there are fewer Kardashian references, it’s easier to be happy with what we’re receiving as a viewer. Grade: A-.
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