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The People v. O.J. Simpson, American Crime Story


Tonight's episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson was both our favorite and our least favorite so far.

We'd almost say "A Jury in Jail" was fun to watch, because there was a certain unexpected lightness to it as it told the story of a group of people slowly losing both their nerves and their minds over the course of the trial. But for the most part, we were just infuriated in the best way.

The jury was especially vital during the O.J. Simpson trial, given the fact that Simpson happened to be both a beloved celebrity and a black man in 1994, so both the defense and the prosecution were incredibly interested in the kinds of people represented on it. What resulted was basically a heated ping pong match between Marcia Clark and Johnnie Cochran over who should stay and who should go when it came to jury members.

Those jury members thought they were signing up for two months of a simple sequester and ended up in a fancy hotel jail for eight months of mild torture.

They weren't allowed to be in each other's rooms, or use the pool, or talk to other hotel guests. All of their books were screened by officers to make sure it was "appropriate." They got to watch TV, but only pre-approved TV shows like Seinfeld or Martin, and they all had to watch together.

Meanwhile, during an amazing montage set to "Another One Bites the Dust," the jurors would occasionally be called in to be questioned by the judge, and then would sometimes be dismissed for something in their past that may make them biased in one way or another. One guy had once taken a picture with O.J. Simpson, while another was arrested for kidnapping. One woman was dismissed because she lied about having been a victim of domestic violence.

The paranoia at possibly being dismissed at any time combined with their virtual imprisonment and constantly worsening raciel tensions made for a group of people really not suited to making the kinds of decisions involved in a high stakes murder case, but that's exactly what they were expected to do.

Add all that to the fact that the prosecution's best evidence—Simpson's DNA all over everything—is a thing that people in 1994 fundamentally did not understand, and you've got yourself one giant mess of a case.

When the deputies in charge of the jurors were replaced after some isolated complaints that the deputies were treating the black jurors unfairly, that was the last straw. Many of the jurors refused to go to the next hearing, and when they did show up, they dressed in all black as a form of protest, and Judge Ito was forced to put the trial on hold for a couple of days. 

The Seinfeld vs. Martin debate was perhaps the most telling part of the episode. The white jurors wanted to watch Seinfeld, and the black jurors wanted to watch Martin, and eventually Martin won the vote. Meanwhile, O.J. sat in his cell, playing cards and talking about how Seinfeld's Kramer deserves his own show.

For this particular writer who has no memory of a non-murderer O.J. Simpson, the Simpson case is the stuff of jokes and legend. From the public seeing Judge Ito as a dancing idiot on late night TV to the jurors believing there were cameras in their bedrooms, this whole case was built and destroyed on perception. At this point, even just watching the show for the past eight weeks, it's hard to keep track of the actual evidence or any actual facts in the case, and our opinion on O.J.'s guilt changes from episode to episode. 

We've never been more confused, and we've never felt more for Robert Kardashian. We felt those tears there at the end when he realized that even if he thought O.J. was guilty, there was nothing he could do but stand beside him and just hope he'd soon be out of his life in some way or another. 

Of course, we, on the other hand, are crying and dreading the day The People V. O.J. Simpson is out of our lives forever. This ride is just too damn fascinating.