When American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy announced plans to create a companion series centering on infamous crimes throughout national history, then revealed the title of the first season as American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson, we were all more than a little skeptical. Murphy is not known for his subtlety or grace, but the Simpson murder trial is a true story of murder and deceit, which impacted many people. Now, the more we hear about American Crime Story, the less it seems like it’s going to be a respectful retelling of the trial – instead, it will veer closer to satire.
Vulture recently caught up with the season’s writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes, The People vs. Larry Flynt), who adapted The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, and their comments indicate that there will be some unexpectedly comedic elements to the show.
When it was initially conceived, the first season was to be told from the lawyers’ perspectives and cover “how a combination of prosecution confidence, defense wiliness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.” But Alexander now claims that the show is “going to be a hoot.”
“The strange thing about the trial is that they [the real-life characters] all shoved themselves onto television and so a lot of lawyers ended up becoming ‘personalities,’ which is very unusual. So everybody in America knows this entire cast of lawyers and witnesses and hangers-on.”
As such, Murphy and company went about casting big names in the series. The first season will boast John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran and Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson. However, one smaller character will also play a significant role:
“One of the running gags in our script is that [because] they knocked out all of the daytime television for the trial, we have a very minor character who’s into the soap operas and is very, very angry they pulled all of her shows. But by the tenth episode, she’s watching the O.J. trial as if it’s a soap opera.”
American Crime Story will certainly be an interesting experiment to watch unfold. It’s tentatively set to air on FX early in 2016.