From the Ashes of Tragedy

Okay, I may have to give up on the attempt at the weekly review of 11/22/63. My Hulu connection here is just terrible and I can't reliably watch 11/22/63. Eventually I will watch the show and have notes. Probably when it's available on Amazon, my only reliable source. Anyway, I do have access to People vs. OJ Simpson. So let's give that a try! First: a Buzzfeed reminder of the highlights of the trial.

Let's start with the pilot. Yes, I am super far behind. But let's go with it! I'm planning on an entry an episode, with references to the accuracy of the episode and a reference to The Fug Girls. Jessica, a Fug Girl, was actually in college in LA during this whole thing and has a particular point of view regarding the OJ trial. And I really like the Fug Girls. So, I'll take a look at each episode and find something about the accuracy and then refer to the Fug Girls for theme and tone.

And before we really get into the pilot - I'm inspired by the Fug Girls! This series is going to be hugely impacted by the viewer's own experience with the OJ trial. I was 8/9 during the events depicted in the series. For me, the OJ trial always means after school at my Grandma's, eating cheese and wondering why our usual after-school programming isn't available. I remember the glove and the craze over the verdict. But this show is very much about a crucible court case. So that made me think: what our mine? I was really too young for the OJ trial. My biggest counterpoints: The whole Monica Lewinsky thing. I wasn't old enough to totally understand what was happening, but I was old enough to be caught up in it. The Michael Jackson trials? Gore vs  Bush? Trayvon Martin? Damn, I would watch all those movies and/or TV series. Seriously though, there is something to be said for an event or story that captivates the nation. The 'where you were when this happened.' Two events I was around for that have already been greatly captured: Financial crisis of 2008 and Sarah Palin. I randomly watched Game Change last night and was blown away by the sheer idiocy of the character and the havoc she wreaked on the campaign. And the people who actually lived through it admit it is startlingly accurate. Thanks for bringing her to a national level, guys!

And then we get into the episode. We start with the Rodney King riots. Race is a crucial part of the story, whether Simpson will admit it or now. The riots help orientate the viewer, firmly setting the time and place. We see Simpson picked up the night of the murders. And the theme of fame, celebrity is quickly picked up, as the driver gushes how O.J. is his first celebrity. And his own story - that's what I want to be when I grow up. Not an athlete or an artist, just famous. And then we get to the scene. There were lots of little details that make me think this is very accurate, like the full bathtub and the dog being the one to actually discover the body.

The show also plays with the audience's knowledge of the trial, as the seemingly innocuous glove pops up, the white Bronco. And I also learn a lot about the trail itself that I didn't pick up on when it was actually happening. Honestly, the evidence presented just in the pilot is shocking. He seriously got a non-guilty verdict? The gloves at both places, the unexplained injury, his lack of surprise or concern about Nicole's death. The polygraph. 

There has been some drama online about the extent the Kardashians are present in the show, how factual that is. We'll see how it goes as the plot continues, but hey - O.J. slept in Kimmy's bedroom!

The cast is, mostly, perfect. Gooding does a good job of presenting an ambivalence of Simpson's guilt. It reminds of American Psycho  - Willem Dafoe played the detective investigating Patrick Bateman and played each scene three different ways, one in which he knew that Bateman killed Allen, one in which he was sure Bateman was innocent, and one in which he wasn't sure, then edited them all together to confuse the audience. Selma Blair and Connie Britton as Nicole's friends are fun and it sounds like we get a lot more of Britton. Travolta's character has a great introduction scene and he is typically scene-chewing-y. Sarah Paulson is absolutely terrific as Marcia Clark, as previously reported by anyone who has seen the show. The only person who didn't totally click for me was David Schwimmer. This is not his fault at all but I think that, at this point in my life, it is safe to say that the main cast of Friends will never be able to play anything but Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross. Sorry Ross.

Over at Fuggirls, Jessica gives an overview of her O.J. experience in L.A. and runs down the major characters.

Over at Rolling Stone, they give the factual errors 'gloves.' The biggest deviations - the 'finding the bodies' was cleaned up a little for television and Cochran was in from day one. Otherwise, the show is sadly accurate.