What The People V. O.J. Simpson Learned From Making a Murderer

Scoop on TV's most exciting new series

By Kristin Dos Santos Jan 17, 2016 2:08 AMTags
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. SimpsonFX

Fun fact: Ryan Murphy is just as obsessed with Making a Murderer as you are.

And it's part of the reason we can say with confidence that if you are a fan of the Netflix series, you'll be completely sucked into Murphy's latest TV project: FX's The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. (That reason and also that it's arguably the most compelling TV series to air in years.)

Murphy revealed today that his new limited series on FX focusing on the "Trial of the Century" will include something he'd wished to have seen more of on Murderer: The jury's perspective.

"I tore through those episodes [of Making a Murderer] on Christmas break," Murphy revealed today at the TCA Press Tour. "I was so fascinated by that show. You end up asking, 'How is the judicial system so broken?' I wanted to talk to more than one juror and I wanted to see more inside that jury room."

And The People V. O.J. Simpson will go there. "One of the episodes that I'm most proud of is number eight, and it is from the POV of the jury, what were they like and how did we get to this verdict? I think that's something people will be interested in. That's why these shows are exploding and there's so much interest."

America's recent obsession with true crime makes O.J. particularly timely—It's set to air Feb. 2 on FX. And executive producer Brad Simpson believes this new trend is due to the particular type of crime stories that are coming out. 

"I think there's something different happening right now," Simpson explained. "Great true crime stories aren't just about a crime, they're about a rupture in society...I think people are interested in injustice right now in a way people haven't always been."

"I think there are times when people want television to affirm their values and their hopes, but in this genre, people want television to explore their fears and their misgivings," executive producer Nina Jacobson asserted.

The O.J. trial was "the most famous event in American history that had never been dramatized," according to author Jeffrey Toobin, whose book the series is based on, and nearly all the actors in the cast have vivid memories of watching the Bronco chase in 1994 —which 100 million people watched live—and the verdict.

For David Schwimmer, who plays OJ's friend and attorney Robert Kardashian, it was an especially memorable time, given that Friends also premiered in that period and his life changed forever. 

"First of all, I was living in LA so I was very aware of the tension here," Schwimmer explained. "I was up to speed as any citizen would be of current events. You could feel it. It was very palpable in the city. Then this career break of a lifetime happened [with Friends], so I was in this strange space of my own first flush of celebrity…living that world in a way and at the same time really working hard to stay connected to the real world and the events that were unfolding. So I remember paying attention quite a bit to the trial. … I don't remember specifics about all of us in the cast getting to gather to talk about it. But I'm sure we did, because how could you not living in this city?"

Perhaps the greatest beauty of The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, is that it's completely riveting television regardless of how much you know or remember about the O.J. trial. If you know none of the details, your mind will be blown. And if you think you remember the details, your mind will be blown, too. Yes, everyone knows the end of the story, but the journey in each episode will take you by surprise. 

"I didn't understand or know the sexism that [Marcia Clark] endured," Murphy, who came on as a producer after the initial scripts were written, admitted. "The amount of blood evience, DNA, the story of how the glove came to be. Literally there was something in every script that was both illuminating and done so well." 

You, too, will be stunned.

O.J. premieres Feb. 2 on FX.