American Crime Story Premiere Recap

American Crime Story: What's the Verdict on FX's O.J. Simpson Saga?

File this under gallows humor: When Marcia Clark first heard the name “O.J. Simpson,” American Crime Story informs us, she had no idea who he was.

And though Clark would go on to prosecute the beloved sports star for two deaths in one of the biggest murder cases in United States history the lawyer at first had to be reminded that he was “the guy in the Hertz commercials.”

Such are the behind-the-scenes tidbits and gory details offered up by FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson, based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Run of His Life. In a moment, we’ll want to hear what you thought of the premiere. But first, a brief recap:

The action starts on the evening of Nicole Brown Simpson’s and Ronald Goldman’s murders; as O.J. (played by Jerry Maguire‘s Cuba Gooding Jr.) jets off to Chicago, a neighbor finds the bodies at Simpson’s home. When the Los Angeles Police Department investigates and calls the former football star, O.J. doesn’t even ask how his ex-wife died.

In fact, O.J. is shady at every turn: Aside from the blood found at his house and in his car, and his inability to keep his alibi consistent, he fails a lie-detector test. And, as the series reminds us — most vividly via a conversation between Faye Resnick (Nashville‘s Connie Britton) and Kris Kardashian (Anger Management‘s Selma Blair) — during their marriage, O.J. beat his wife up. A lot.

O.J. soon starts building his defense team, which includes longtime friend Robert Kardashian (Friends‘ David Schwimmer) and counsel-to-the-stars Robert Shapiro (Pulp Fiction‘s John Travolta). (Though Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) is introduced in the premiere, he joins O.J.’s “dream team” in a subsequent episode.)

Similarly, the prosecution — led by Clark (American Horror Story‘s Sarah Paulson) — begins to form a strategy for what seems like a slam-dunk win. But the series’ first hour hints at the strife ahead: Post-Rodney King Los Angeles, coupled with O.J.’s celebrity and some very media-savvy legal eagles playing for his side, means Clark & Co. will find themselves at an extreme disadvantage as the weeks progress.

Throughout, American Crime Story manages to balance the ridiculous (a shot of the Kardashian children running amok at Nicole’s funeral) with the truly tragic (Nicole’s confused daughter, who’s being held at the police station in the murders’ aftermath, cries into the house answering machine while police techs catalogue the scene). The result is an engrossing — and yes, at times entertaining — look at one of America’s most famous crimes.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to elaborate!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Joey says:

    I know I could look this up on Google or something, but did Robert Kardashian really look like a double for Maxwell Sheffield back in ’94?

  2. Hannah says:

    I thought it was good. Cuba Gooding Jr was a lot better than I expected based on some of the reviews I read. And the guy who played Darden was good too.

  3. Scott says:

    I think this was fairly well acted all around

  4. Allie says:

    I am sure I am not the only one that thought – no way in hell am I watching this show after i lived through the ENDLESS coverage of it live. It was a horrible injustice years ago. Enough already.

  5. Ellinaras78 says:

    Not bad, not great. Can’t stand Ross playing a serious guy though. But most characters are like cartoons to the people that watched all this live.

  6. DarkDefender says:

    So far the acting has been pretty awesome. Having watched the case unfold in real time (and I watched the trial daily), so far it mirrors the events at the time. I did think Marsha Clark didn’t get the perm until closer to the start of trial, but the time lines around the neighbor coming up on the crime scene and the detectives arriving at OJ’s place are straight out of the trial testimony.
    I thought it might be too much of a rehashing for me, having seen it all back then, but by the time the Bronco hit the freeway, I was hooked again.

  7. Jill says:

    I understand that Robert Kardashian was a major player in the saga. I also understand that Kris Jenner was a good friend of Nicole’s. But did there really have to be the Kardashian kid name dropping???? “Juice- please don’t kill yourself in Kimmy’s bedroom.” I think that the actors playing Cochran, Darden, and Clark are phenomenal thus far. I am not sold on Cuba- his voice is too high for OJ. I will continue to watch because the story is fascinating- but could do without any more kid kardashianisms.

    • DarkDefender says:

      I believe that was how it happened, before he and AC Cowling took off in the Bronco. They found a gun, cash and a disguise in the Bronco, too. Naming the Kardashian “kids” seemed more to poke fun at them, as we all know them now and they were nobody’s back then. Also, I think that is the last we’ll hear of them in this series.

    • Imzadi says:

      “Khloe, Kourtney, stop running (in the church)!” That’s three down and one (Rob) to go!

      • Jill says:

        Yep- those lines were completely unnecessary to the story and were only used as a device to name drop. Robert Sr. yes should be portrayed. Kris- I get it… but the kids? Stop the name dropping! Hopefully, DarkDefender is right and that will be the end of it.

        • Eric says:

          I think they are name dropping to bring in the younger viewers who know nothing about OJ Simpson, but know plenty of the Kardashians. This will make it ‘more real’ for those who were too young to remember the case…because they can tie it to people they are familiar with now.

  8. liame says:

    Run O.J. Run!

  9. ? says:

    It was good . . . I’m not sure there’s anything left that needs to be said about the OJ trial so I don’t know if it was necessarily a great choice for a series like this. But, regardless, it was good.

  10. Imzadi says:

    Romy Rosemont (Finn’s mother on Glee) was the witness who saw O.J. rushing by in the white Bronco. Christian Clemenson (lawyer Jerry Espenson on Boston Legal) was Marcia Clark’s co-counsel. Bruce Greenwood (Capt. Pike on Star Trek and POTUS in National Treasure Book of Secrets) was her boss, Gil Garcetti. I thought David Schwimmer was amazing as Robert Kardashian–those big puppy dog eyes!

  11. The thing that worries me about this show is that it has such a similar title to the (so far) superior American Crime. This show has big names and a bigger budget, but in terms of storytelling and engaging characters, it’s only just ok. Each time I read recaps of AC, there are commenters who were hoping to read about the OJ show. I would hate for AC to be ignored or if this show gets bad (which is likely due to a certain producer), for people to be confused and not watch American Crime. There is no need for this to be part of anthology and this case is too specific to be a reflection of crime in America anyway. AC deals with everyday Americans being disillusioned by the way their country handles crime everyday. This should be called “Celebrity Crime Story” or “Well-Known Crimes” or something. Anything to distance itself from the better show. Unless that was intentional, which I doubt!

    • Jill says:

      I am completely hooked on American Crime- and the fact that those kind of stories (boys being raped by boys) are starting to come out now, I believe that this show is breaking ground on a subject that happens, but is vastly ignored.

    • Lucas says:

      It is called American Crime Story to show its relation to American Horror Story, as they intended the show to be the realistic counterpart of the latter.

  12. this cast looks nothing like the people and their relative heights and weight is terrible. The Rodney king thing was stupid as the case begins with the dance recital. The factual evidence is being glossed over and distorted. The discovery time line is messed up. The chain of custody if missing. And let me guess Bruce Jenner was not at the funeral?

    • Crys says:

      The producers have already said they are gonna delve into the race relations that were elucidated because of the trial and verdict. A lot of the reasons many black Americans supported O.J (a man who didnt even consider himself black anymore) was due to the constant injustice American blacks were experiencing at the time with law enforcement and the lack of justice in the legal process. A catalyst to those feelings was the Rodney King beating and subsequent release of the perpetrators. That’s why they started there.

  13. Still they promulgate fraud to perpetuate a false narrative of Simpson’s guilt. Simply structuring the mean, median, and mode to achieve a final result does not mean that the final conclusion is accurate. As it relates to the Simpson case, it is a false conclusion based upon fraudulent evidence while concealing exculpatory and mitigating evidence. Read PURSUIT OF EXHIBIT 35 and THE PEOPLE VS. OJ SIMPSON and watch the OJ Simpson Conspiracy unfold in SERPENTS RISING. ( They knew that Simpson did not commit these murders, and concealed the evidence of who did.

  14. MiaB says:

    I thought the premiere was terrific. Ross as Robert Kardashian was actually a perfect fit. John Travolta as Robert Shapiro is the really terrible one. He’s way bigger than Shapiro and looks nothing like him. The rest of the casting is absolutely brilliant.

  15. mike says:

    I’m waiting for the Dahmer special that shows he only ate those boys because he loved them to much. Painting him as some sympathetic type character so the same sheeple that think Avery is innocent have a new bandwagon to jump on.

    I was in Boca when this thing went down. Remember watching parts of it vividly. Remember some of my advertising customers calling from LA before the riots broke out. Im not watching this nonsense because I already watched the real thing

  16. AtlLady says:

    I voted for “very good”. Overall, the many characters were introduced at a rapid clip but were easy enough to keep straight, but I lived through the original so that might not be true for those new to the story. The only problems I have at the moment are Cuba Gooding as OJ and John Travolta as Shapiro. Cuba hasn’t captured the “charming” part of OJ yet. Travolta wasn’t “bad” but I thought his face had been completely botoxed into submission.

  17. Jeri says:

    Paulson & Schwimmer were excellent, the entire cast did a great job. Best thing on TV in ages. Can’t wait to see what happens next and I was watching in shock and horror when it was actually happened. Mind blowing! Bravo Kato too, what a mess (in a good way).

  18. Hedy S. says:

    The story is great so far. Most of the acting is good too, but I really wish they had picked a better actor than Cuba Gooding to play OJ. He was terrible. Also David Schwimmer is a terrible actor, and this is his worst yet. I’m waiting for him to yell out “but we were on a break!!!” I hope he doesn’t get much more screen time. Unfortunately we have to put up with Cuba for the entire series.

  19. Janet says:

    Can anyone tell me when this episode 1 will be shown again [before next Tuesday’s 2/9 episode 2]? I only caught part of it.

  20. kitsunesaru says:

    Could someone give me some content advisory? As in language, violence, etc. I know it was rated MA and it’s a cable show, but I just wanted to know if it’s mild or excessive.

    • DarkDefender says:

      It is a dramatic retelling of a true story of a brutal double murder. They have already mentioned that NBS was almost decapitated, something that was sanitized during the press coverage of the trial. As with any scripted interpretation of real events, expect to see exaggeration, and heightened depiction for dramatic effect.