TV series reexamines O.J. Simpson trial


Photo credit: Madison Holmes

Julie Ramos

Rewind to 22 years ago. It is June 17, 1994, a significant day in American history.

Arnold Palmer is playing his last round of golf in the U.S. Open in Pennsylvania. The FIFA World Cup just kicked off in Chicago. The New York Rangers are parading through Broadway in celebration of their Stanley Cup championship. The NBA finals between the Rockets and Knicks is taking place in Madison Square Garden.

Yet every one of these events is second to the infamous white Ford Bronco car chase around Los Angeles.

June 17, 1994, is a day that will forever be remembered. A day that American media reeled in over 95 million viewers nationwide, plagued with updates. The day that former professional football player, O.J. Simpson was expected to turn himself in to the LAPD but instead led 20 police cars and 269 media helicopters on a slow-speed chase.

Four days earlier, Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside of Brown’s condo in L.A.

Simpson was tried on two counts of murder. At the end of his eight month trial, he was found not guilty.

Fast-forward to present day. It is February of 2016. The new hit television show, “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” premiered on FX as a mini-series on Feb. 2. The show set new records as the most watched premier on FX. The 10-episode series follows the story of the most publicized murder trial in history.

I think that the series was long-overdue considering the trial is so well-known and watched around the world for over twenty years now. Though it may be outdated, I think that people are still just as interested and fascinated with it.

It was eye-opening to see the trial come to life through a show after previously reading articles about it. The series is only two episodes in. In just two one-hour episodes, the new series depicts Simpson to be staggeringly guilty. First of all, he is late to his limo ride and skipped town prior to the bodies being found. Next, police found blood on his car and at his house along with a matching glove. Later, he promises to his lawyers that he did not do it yet he fails a lie detector test. The second episode recaps how he is supposed to turn himself in but instead leaves a suicide note at the house and leads police on a car chase throughout L.A. Throughout the chase, he holds a gun to his head while stating that he wants to kill himself.

Each of those factors lead viewers to believe he is guilty. Only someone with something to hide chooses to flee and become suicidal. I think that if he was innocent, he would cooperate and assist in the investigation. He might express to law enforcement that he was set up.

He may have been found not guilty because of the evidence handling and technology at the time. Today procedures and regulations are much more strict and advanced than they were in the ’90s.

Consequently, this new series is stirring up old questions of the validity of the trial. Simpson was definitely given special treatment. His high celebrity status allowed law enforcement to accept his unanswered timeline during questioning, let him “turn himself in” to the LAPD, hold back during a chase pursuit for a murder suspect, and let him go into his house to talk to his mother and drink juice before being taken in after the chase.

The controversy continues with the outcome of the case. Around the same time as the trial, police brutality toward African-American males was a hot issue. Many people from this community believed that Simpson was innocent and being blamed because of the color of his skin. The case grew to be less about a matter of guilt or innocence and more about a matter of race.

I am interested to see how the rest of the series unfolds. I think that viewers will have mixed emotions toward the show and message of guilt it is portraying to someone who was found not guilty.

I think O.J. Simpson was guilty. I think that the television show producers also believe he was guilty. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what they, or I or you think. There is only one person who truly knows whether he was guilty or innocent, and that’s O.J. Simpson himself.

Julie Ramos can be reached at [email protected] or @julie_ramoss on Twitter.