Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Monday, 15 February 2016

Why Are We Still So Fascinated By The OJ Simpson Case?

Why Are We Still So Fascinated By The OJ Simpson Case?

The Debrief: As the televised drama American Crime Story (starring David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian) hits our screens, we take a look back at the case that blew the worlds' minds

This week sees the start of one of the most anticipated new TV series for a while. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (BBC Two, Monday) is the latest true crime serial to get people talking and, considering you're probably just about done with Making A Murderer it's probably worth tuning in for.

So, why are we still so obsessed with the OJ Simpson murder case, 22 years on? Well, there's about seven hundred reasons, and none of them are particularly all that fun. Here's why...

It was the 'trial of the century'

For those of you too young to remember the events unfolding at the time (hello), here's a quick refresher. OJ Simpson was one of America's most famous veteran American Football players. The David Beckham of the US if you will (although obviously David Beckham never got caught up in a huge murder case). Although OJ retired in 1979, he had subsequently become a successful actor, appearing in films such as Towering Inferno and The Naked Gun series. In 1985, he married ex-waitress Nicole Smith whom he'd met whilst still married to his previous wife. During their marriage Nicole accused him of spousal abuse, a claim he didn't refute. Nicole divorced OJ in 1992.

In June 1994, Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered at Ronald's house. OJ Simpson was caught after a long car chase and put on trial for murder. He pleaded not guilty.

After a trial that lasted eight months, OJ Simpson was acquitted despite a wealth of evidence pointing the other way. This included; blood that matched his DNA, bloody footprints that matched his 'rare Italian shoes' and bloody clothes at OJ's house. The 'not guilty' result shocked the world.

He supposedly wrote a book called 'If I Did It'

After he was acquitted, OJ Simpson didn't re-ingratiate himself with the public. In fact, he reportedly set to work on a book called If I Did It, which is allegedly said to contain a 'hypothetical' explanation as to how OJ would have committed the murders, if he did it. OJ denies involvement with the book although ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves claims it was a collaboration. Ronald Goldman's parents later released the book themselves after the rights were awarded to them in a settlement.

It was the beginning of the Kardashians

The OJ Simpson case was the beginning of the now notorious family's ascension into the public eye. Robert Kardashian, Kim, Khloe, Rob and Kourtney's late father became friends with OJ Simpson in his college days. As well as being his lawyer, Robert's house was the house OJ was staying at when the police came for him and it was Robert who he spoke to on the phone during his car chase which was watched on telvision by 95 million people.

After the trial, Robert, in an interview with ABC seemed doubtful about OJ's innocence. 'I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I struggle with the blood evidence.'

Apparently Robert and OJ's friendship didn't recover after the trial 'Our relationship is not the same as it once was nor will it ever be.' He said. 'Because I have doubts.' Kris Jenner later said that OJ tried to called Robert when he was dying of cancer but Robert 'didn't take the call.'

Kris Jenner was Nicole Brown's best friend

And she's had a lot to say on the subject. She clearly believed OJ was guilty back in 1995, 'In my world, my little world, things always work out for the best. You don't think someone is going to murder someone.' She said to the Washington Post when they asked her if she knew about OJ's dangerous behaviour towards Nicole once she broke up with him. Fast forward to today and she's still feeling guilty, ''I will always feel guilty that I didn't pay more attention and didn't speak up when I thought anything was wrong or asked her more, "Do you want to talk about it?"' She said to ABC last year.

In 2011, in her memoir (whaddya mean you didn't read it?) she went the whole hog, 'She was a wreck,' She said. 'She was convinced that someone was looking in her windows and climbing through her bushes in the middle of the night. She became convinced that the person spying on her was either O.J. or someone sent by O.J., who was obsessed with what she was doing when he wasn’t with her. She told me that she was being stalked, and she believed it was O.J. I instinctively knew that in some way O.J. had something to do with her death.'

And that's just a taster of Kris's two cents. There's plenty more where that came from if you have a little Google.

American Crime Story has an insane cast list

And I mean insane. The ambitious, ten-part true crime anthology that follows the case is now on in the UK on BBC2. Ross/David  Geller/Schwimmer plays Robert Kardashian (who didn't actually speak in court), whilst Kris Jenner is played by (wait for it) Selma Blair. Cuba Gooding Jr (good to see him out and about again) is OJ Simpson whilst Sarah Paulson plays Marcia Clark, the badass prosecutor who gave up the law after the OJ case (she later appeared on Pretty Little Liars because: Hollywood). Also on the list are Nathan Lane, Connie Britton and (obviously) John Travolta as OJ's lawyer Robert Shapiro.

There's a fascinating This American Life episode that gives you a good (and tragic) insight into what OJ was like in the years following the trial

Too Soon (This American Life #564) has a segment about a deeply troubling, desperately sad reality TV show that comedian Harmon Leon worked on. Spoiler: the celebrity involved with the show was OJ Simpson. It's definitely worth a listen.

He's now in prison

In 2007, OJ Simpson was charged with armed robbery and several other felonies. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison which he is currently serving time at Lovelock Correctional Center where he'll remain until at least 2017.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Here Are 7 Crime Documentaries To Watch After You've Finished Making A Murderer

These Making A Murderer Memes Are Getting Out Of Control

Steven Avery: What happened to the Man In Making A Murderer (SPOILERS)

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

Tags: Film, TV, Making A Murderer