We’ve been at ‘peak TV’ for a while now, so what’s your method for dealing with the pressures of all there is? I assume it’s “tune out all but the essentials”, but I’m gonna need you to reconsider.
I gobbled down two episodes of American Crime Story last night, simultaneously elated and depressed that we were just hours away from another episode. Actually, tonight’s is the 9th episode of 10, and my enthusiasm for this show isn’t waning at all.
ACS: The People vs. OJ Simpson is nothing like any other Ryan Murphy joint I’ve ever watched. It’s like all his TV work up to now was building to this, so that this show could be straight-up perfect. Everything about it is exactly what you hoped it would be, what you didn’t know you needed to know about the OJ trial, and a general commentary on all the tiny ways something can go wrong. It is also, not to put too fine a point on it, exactly what The Newsroom wanted to be for three seasons, and never was.
But like I said, you’re busy—I get it. It’s Episode 9 tonight, so you’d have to go get caught up, maybe even spend the whole weekend binging! How dare I! I know—but the show is reminding me what the trial began to teach us, though we didn’t know it at the time.
If you were watching daily, as I was as a young high schooler, it was clear that everyone was working hard, but someone’s going to lose anyway. The OJ Simpson trial taught us hard work isn’t enough.
If you were a person of colour, or a woman, and the evidence of collusion and dirty cops (or in some cases, secretive cops) became completely clearly evident, you realized they really do all have secret clubs together, at least, some of ‘them’. Some of the time.
The joy of the show isn’t just how good Sarah Paulson and David Schwimmer and Courtney B. Vance are, though they are. It’s not about the 90s setting, which you can just about forget about if nobody in the scene is wearing a tie. It’s about that feeling that you got, watching the trial, that something was happening. That it was the beginning of something, or the end of something.
People seem to have that feeling a lot these days. Over the U.S. election, or #BlackLivesMatter, or the horror of the now-daily reports of terrorism and gun violence and rape culture. We feel like we’re in the middle of something. In a tipping point. Right? Like things can’t go on quite this way, so something will have to change but we don’t know exactly what?
That’s what this show feels like. Like it was the last moments of innocence before everything changed. Catch up in time to watch the verdict next week, and see if you don’t agree.
Attached - Cuba Gooding Jr. on The Late Late Show with James Corden last night.