Jazmin Kopotsha | Culture Writer | Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How Accurate Is The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story TV Series?

The Debrief: Netflix gave us an excuse revisit the the trial of the century. Here’s everything you need to know about the show.

There’s nothing like a super intensive drama based on real life events to entice you into your next TV binge. And although The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story only hit our Netflix accounts a couple of months ago, the ten-episode series actually first appeared on BBC Two last year. Nevertheless, even 23 years on from the real life OJ Simpson murder case, we’re still really fascinated by what we’ll forever know as the ‘trial of the century’.  

I’d say we’re all pretty familiar with who OJ Simpson is (celebrated American Football player turned actor, just in case), and most of us have vague recollections of the world-famous murder case, or at the very least of grown-ups talking about it in our presence. But I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say there are more than a few gaps in our understanding of what actually went down. Like, how did the Kardashians weigh into this, when did it all happen and what happened after? If you're considering tuning into the show, here are some answers for ya… 

Who’s in the The People Vs OJ Simpson cast? 

The cast list is pretty crazy/impressive/will make you want to watch it almost as much as the series itself. Say hello to David Schwmmer aka Ross from Friends. He plays Robert Kardashian while none other than John Travolta plays OJ Simpson’s lawyer, Robert Shapiro. 

Then, of course, there’s OJ Simpson himself, who is played by Cuba Gooding Jr (anyone else watch Snow Dogs back in the day?). Pre-momager Kris Jenner is played by Selma Blair and then the prosecutor, Marcia Clark, is played by Sarah Paulson (who’s also going to be in the female Oceans remake next year, btw).

Wait, what do the Kardashians have to do with the OJ Simpson case again?

So, in real life, Robert Kardashian is the late ex-husband of Kris Jenner and dad to Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Rob. He and OJ were good friends and he later became part of OJ’s legal team. Kris was close to Nicole Brown Simpson, OJ’s ex-wife who he was accused of killing. The difficulty with dramatisations of past events that involve people who are still very much in the public eye today is that you can’t help but have their current image in your head when you watch re-enactments of the past. Back then, though, ‘the Kardashians’ wasn’t a thing. 

But the family ties to the OJ case are pretty strong. Apparently, OJ was an usher at Kris and Robert’s wedding. The night before OJ was in that car chase with the police, he’s said to have spent the night over at the Kardashians where he was found the following morning considered suicide in Khloe Kardashian’s room. 

In Kris Jenner’s autobiography, she reprinted a letter that her then husband had written to her which basically lays out what most of us already know – she was convinced that OJ is guilty and Robert that he’s innocent. 

Where can I watch a trailer for The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story?

There are a few trailers floating around on YouTube. Here’s one that’ll give you a decent idea of the tone they went for in the rest of the series. Chills down the spine material right here. 

If you head over to the BBC Two website though, there are loads of clips from the series if you’d like something a bit more substantial to ponder over. 

How accurate is the TV show’s portrayal of the OJ Simpson trial? 

Any mingling of fact and fiction can be a bit confusing. And when it comes to something as high profile as this it's hard to know what to believe, especially if you were too young to really follow it when it was on the news. For the most part, people seem to think the show is a pretty close representation of what happened all those years ago. It’s worth remembering though, that it’s never considered itself a documentary. It’s very clearly a TV drama. 

The series is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book though. And the show does try to relay the perspective of both the prosecution and the defense, which is a good thing. We're all about balance here. 

In an interview with James Corden on the Late Late Show, Khloe Kardashian said that she thinks they’ve done a ‘great job’ of the miniseries, which should give you some reassurance if you’re a bit hesitant about getting stuck into a show that might not give you an accurate insight into OJ’s case. But she does explain that not all of the facts are accurate, particularly where they show OJ considering suicide in Kim’s room – that actually happened in Khloe's. To use her words, they ‘sensationalising the Kardashian name in it, I think to bring a younger audience in’.  

Did The People Vs OJ Simpson win any awards?

Hell yeah, it did. It won the Golden Globe for best Miniseries or Television Film in January this year and Sarah Paulson won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries too. The cast also casually picked up a few Emmy's too - Sarah once again for her performance as a lead actress and Sterling K Brown for his performance as lawyer Christopher Darden too. Then there's the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critic's Choice Awards and BET Awards. No big deal. Are you buffering episode one yet? 

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