The first full trailer for Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson has been released by FX, who will premiere the mini-series on February 2nd, 2016, and it’s just as ludicrous looking as you were probably expecting. To be completely honest, there was no way that this thing wasn’t going to be a big hunk of ham, what with Murphy’s long history of heedless lunacy, horrendous atonality, and the sheer presence of Mr. John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, one of Simpson’s defense attorney. Then there’s David Schwimmer and Selma Blair as Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian, close friends of the former athlete and comedian, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., and Murphy axiom Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, the lead of the prosecutorial team that took on Simpson. In terms of camp, this might just work, but Murphy’s track record includes some truly outrageous attempts at thin, earnest morality that taints otherwise fun outings. Check out the trailer for American Crime Story below:
It’s reassuring to see Gooding out in front again, considering his recent line of strong supporting roles, most memorably in the ensemble of Lee Daniels‘ wonderful, under-valued The Butler. Otherwise, the entire production looks like a ton of melodramatic nonsense, done without the visual flair or emotional and psychological thoughtfulness that powers great melodrama. Murphy is always after the shock, always playing up his control over the audience and consistently condescending to them, which is clearly evident in American Horror Story: Freak Show and, to a lesser extent, Hotel.
There’s always the chance that American Crime Story could show a new side of his creative process, but there’s no evidence of any such shift in this trailer, which has plenty of talk about race and celebrity but assumedly no insight into such matters that haven’t already been touted by a 100 other films or TV series. I’ll attempt to keep my mind open until February 2nd, but for now, this looks like forced outrageousness mixed with the self-seriousness of a John Grisham adaptation. The question is obvious: Where is John Waters when you need the man?