In light of the verdicts in two of Uncle Sam’s most disturbing recent court cases – teenager Kyle Rittenhouse gets the all clear to paint the town dead, and Ahmaud Arbery’s crime of ‘jogging while black’ was finally seen as not just cause to be shot by neighbourhood watch – it’s timely to revisit the monster-alien-egg-lair-uber-trial that trumps them all.
Firstly, it’s often said, but it’s infrequently true: you couldn’t make this up. Or maybe in this case – shouldn’t. Like most, we were aware of the general details, but the truth of the OJ Simpson “trial of the century” is actually 100% pure uncut WTF. Imagine a revered sportsman turned actor – say Ritchie McCaw combined with Shorty’s Dr Warner – a suspect in his wife and her partner’s murder, fleeing the police down the motorway, as the nation watches live on the news. And that’s just the beginning. Before it’s over, the twist and turns have everything from the Kardashians to a Nazi. Now you ask: how did the most guilty man since Ted Bundy walk free?
This is where the filmmakers have painted a nuanced and thoughtful social background. The appalling injustice of the Rodney King beating at the hands of the police, and the subsequent not-guilty verdict, caused an outpouring of anger and rioting on the streets. LA was ablaze. When you consider that the LAPD has a diabolical record of abusing people of colour, it all starts to make sense.
Especially considering what happens in the trial, which we’re not going to tell you. (Just step away from google son, no quick movements.) After watching, and then trawling through YouTube to find videos of the real thing, you can get a sense of how fastidiously the show has recreated iconic moments of drama, right down to the nervous little stutter of the jurist reading the verdict. It’s great storytelling, with a fantastic cast – put it in your eyeballs.
Note: John Travolta’s fearsome forehead caterpillars should have received their own credit (refer to exhibit B, for brows, above). They are a standout nominee for film and television’s greatest eyebrows. Prove us wrong.