In preparing to write the review for the finale of “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story,” one of the questions that we were left to ponder was rather simple: What is there to criticize? While watching the final act we would wonder if perhaps it was going on for too long, only to reverse course every time when it would justify the decisions. For example, the long-winded scene of Robert Kardashian and the Bible was earned when Kardashian purposefully abandoned the book at Simpson’s Brentwood home following not just the not guilty verdict, but Simpson’s attitude in the resulting hours.
Did Kardashian feel he was truly guilty? We know via the title cards at the end that he at least doubted Simpson’s innocence, so you can take the move with the Bible as a sign that he was not prepared to be near someone he considered to be a murderer; or, you could also argue that this was a sign at the very least that he did not appreciate the spectacle that OJ was creating over his newfound freedom, orchestrating a party and giving a halfhearted statement about seeking out the killer(s) of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman after things settled down. His speech was barely a minute, and happened in between party music.
In showing us the tiny snapshot of life after the trial, we saw both through OJ’s eyes and the eyes of those close to him how much his life had fundamentally changed. He’d never be trusted in Brentwood again, he would lose friendships, and he would eventually choose to leave to protect what was left of his dwindling estate. The title cards at the end were perfect to demonstrate what happened to him and many other key players in the trial, especially when accenting his arrest, and just how much the trial ended up breeding a new world of celebrity culture. Without, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” may never have existed, and the same probably goes for more fact-oriented true-crime “entertainment.” Also, we appreciated the sly note about how Judge Lance Ito (now retired) is the only person associated in the trial in a major way to not publish a book about it. Despite claims early on that he wanted some element of celebrity himself from the case, he is living a quiet life and has not done a single interview about the show.
We don’t want to just get lost on the case aftermath, given that the finale also played beautifully the final events of the courtroom, especially when it comes to the performances of Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, and Courtney B. Vance. You saw the pain in Clark and Darden’s eyes as all of their work vanished in thin air thanks to a jury who made a surprisingly quick decision in a case that had previously consumed their lives. It was magnificent, devastating acting that will be rewarded with likely Emmy nominations for all three.
The truth is, we all know the OJ case. We’re not sure this series really altered anyone’s opinion on if he was guilty or not. What this series hopefully did through its outstanding ten episodes was show the full story of the players involved, and how all of them in the end tried to what was right … even if that meant walking away from their former friend and questioning what they had done. Finale Grade: A+.
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