O.J.: Made in America

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
O.J.: Made in America Movie Poster Image
Riveting doc examines impact, background of famous crime.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 467 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Documentary thoughtfully examines such issues as racism's effect on the individual, what someone who becomes a success owes to those left behind, and why ordinary citizens are dazzled by celebrity. The consequences of Simpsons' life choices are clearly shown, and the viewer's sympathies are with those who suffered at his hands.

Positive Role Models & Representations

O.J. Simpson was iconic to African-Americans and sports fans, and this documentary shows why before going on to examine the terrible murders most think he was responsible for. Simpson is presented as a deeply flawed individual who nonetheless gave many someone to look up to in the 1960s through the 1980s. 


Vintage footage of real riots and conflicts includes police brutality, raging fires, fistfights; graphic autopsy and crime scene photos are shown briefly but repeatedly. 


References to casual sex, often talked about non-critically as one of the "perks" enjoyed by male celebrities; an interviewee says Nicole Brown Simpson told him O.J. was sexually "forceful" on their first date but that she put up with it because she liked him. The interviewee was clearly upset by Brown's words and advised Simpson to break it off with O.J. 


Some cursing: "hell," "damn," "ass." "S--t" is bleeped, but several uses of the "N" word are used to refer to African-Americans in the context of talking about historical racism. 


Discussion of O.J.'s commercial for Hertz auto rentals includes analyzing the commercial for its implications about race in the time it was made. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drinking, drugs (cocaine). One brief mention of a club that let in underage patrons. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that O.J.: Made in America examines the social underpinnings of the O.J. Simpson case, many of which are unsavory. Graphic photos of the murder scene and autopsied bodies are shown briefly but repeatedly, and the crime is described in detail. Footage of riots and racial conflicts shows police brutality, rioters being beaten by sticks or fists, snarling dogs, and cars and houses on fire. Many interviewees mention casual sex approvingly as a perk of celebrity and discuss Simpson's sexual life; Simpson is described as sexually "forceful" on his first date with future wife Nicole. Cursing includes "hell," "damn," "ass," "s--t" (bleeped), and instances of the "N" word used in the context of discussing past racial injustices. Expect references to drinking and drugs (cocaine) and brief mention of a nightclub that allowed underaged patrons. The emotional impact of the Simpson/Goldman murders is made clear in interviews from devastated family members and friends. Viewers may have moral questions to discuss after watching. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLea R. August 23, 2016
The above review gives good insight to the first four episodes. The fifth episode becomes more dark with drug use, strippers, naked women, etc.

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What's the story?

They called it the trial of the century: a brutal murder, a rich and famous suspect, and a massive court case that sparked the beginning of "infotainment" reporting in America. But why did the jury render that infamous verdict? And what happened after? The five-part ESPN 30 for 30 documentary O.J. SIMPSON: MADE IN AMERICA digs into the historical and cultural underpinnings of the Simpson case, tracing his rise from San Francisco's housing projects through his storied college and pro football career and then to the heights of superstardom before entering the troubled marriage that ultimately ended in two murders. Interviews with insiders such as Marcia Clark, Mark Fuhrman, and Ron Shipp relate details about O.J.'s criminal case, while close-ups from childhood friends and family members reveal the man behind the headlines. Old footage of O.J. at work and at play appear alongside TV news, movie, and commercial clips that illustrate the events that led up to both the murder and the verdict. 

Is it any good?

Thoughtful, compelling, and ultimately very sad, this seven-and-a-half-hour documentary shines a new light onto a case you may think you know and uses every minute of its running time to tell us why. Why was O.J. Simpson so famous, so revered? Why was he able to repeatedly skate away from consequences even before the murders? Why was the jury primed to acquit? Of course, the most famous why of all -- why did he do it? -- is a dark mystery locked in the heart of a murderer, but this wide-ranging, carefully put-together doc does make a strong case for why he wasn't convicted. 

Whereas The People v. O.J. Simpson surprised viewers by making them care and feel things about a case they'd long put aside, O.J. Simpson: Made in America draws in viewers by revealing details they may not have known about Simpson or the case: the way he was able to skate out of consequences for his actions as a charming young man; where, when, and how he met Nicole; and race, domestic abuse, celebrity, civil rights, the LAPD, the legal process, and how the prosecution of murder has changed since the case. Think you won't want to watch a documentary this long about a case you think you know a lot about? O.J. Simpson: Made in America will grab your attention and prove you wrong. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the O.J. Simpson case has such enduring fascination for the American public. Why is crime so interesting to us? What about this particular crime as examined in O.J.: Made in America was notable? 

  • Many narratives that focus on murder are called "exploitative," using tragedy and pain to turn a profit. Is this documentary exploitative? What is the aim of this documentary?

  • Is it harmful to viewers to watch TV shows or movies that focus on violence? What about young viewers? How do I talk to my kids about violence on TV and in movies or video games?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

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