The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story TV Poster Image
Gory, talky true-crime surprisingly riveting for grown-ups.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The ultimate message is that justice was not served because of one man's celebrity and many chance occurrences -- hardly a positive one. A man who abuses his wife doesn't serve jail time, which sends a message that domestic violence is tolerated. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters are honest and honorable; many others do terrible or criminal things that are hard to fathom. 

Violence

Dead bodies are shown at length, with pools of blood and gore. We hear a terrified child leaving a message begging her murdered mom to call her back. Photographs of dead bodies are shown repeatedly, with grievous injuries discussed. A man threatens suicide, holding a gun to his head. Opening scenes of riots and beatings from real TV news footage is very frightening. 

Sex

Very subtle references to sex. 

Language

Unbleeped cursing: "s--t," "hell," "goddammit." 

Consumerism

Based on a real story; viewers may want to seek out more information after watching. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drugs in a criminal justice context; characters drink on-screen. One character smokes incessantly on-screen. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is a fictionalized miniseries based on a real murder case. Dead bodies are shown at length in pools of blood and gore; we repeatedly see black-and-white photos of the bodies thereafter and their terrible injuries described. A young girl leaves a terrified message for her "missing" mom, begging her to call back. A man threatens to commit suicide, holding a gun to his head. Real news footage shows riots and beatings. Unbleeped cursing includes "s--t," "hell," and "goddammit." References to drugs in a criminal justice context. Characters drink on-screen; a "good" character smokes nearly every time she's on-screen. Ultimately, justice is not served, which sends a downbeat message to viewers, who may have moral questions after watching. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnon A. March 9, 2017

Naked man ep 10

OJ is seen fully naked from the backside when he enters the shower in episode 10.
Some use of crude language throughout the show.
Adult Written bySome O. March 9, 2017

Extreme sexual content

Episode 3: there is a group of women flashing their breasts, about 26 minutes into the episode. No other review seems to mention this and it bothered me a lot w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCaiman sense August 26, 2017

A must-watch for mature and sophisticated teens!

I am quite shocked that so many kids think that this should not be rated TV-ma. This is very informative on racial issues and how the court works. Most episodes... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byciarataylor April 14, 2017

Amazing but not for kids

It's probably one of the best tv shows I've seen but I strongly suggest that you shouldn't watch with children. In a tape recording played in cou... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY is the first season of AMERICAN CRIME STORY, an anthology that presents an episodic, fictionalized dramatization of historically notable crimes. THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON is based on the famous murder case in which football star O.J. (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson (Kelly Dowdle), and Ron Goldman (Jake Koeppl) and underwent a gripping and long-running trial. Defended by the flamboyant Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) and Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), with support from loyal friends such as Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) and AC Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), O.J. weathers legal attacks from Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown). We all know how the story ends. But here's how it went down. 

Is it any good?

With all the facts you remember and many you probably haven't heard yet, this dramatized retelling is almost as gripping as the case that inspired it. Staffed with a cast of executive producer and director Ryan Murphy regulars (Paulson) as well as seemingly stunt-cast superstars (Travolta, Schwimmer, Gooding, Jr.), The People v. O.J. Simpson seems like it's going to be good trashy fun -- but it leans surprisingly hard on the good part. Famously Oscar-cursed Gooding, Jr. hasn't been this magnetic in years; he melts into his blustering O.J. character so quickly that viewers feel like they're getting a secret peek at the real man and what he really did and felt. Paulson-as-Clark is another heartbreaker -- positive that the circumstantial evidence she piles up will easily convict O.J., so frustrated when things don't go her way. The actors are so good -- and the camera work, costumes, settings, and dialogue so deft -- that you quickly forget this is supposed to be a guilty pleasure. However, it's disturbing, slow-paced, and ultimately depressing enough to make it a no-no for young viewers; parents may also want to watch along if teens want to watch, to explain what happened and offer possible reasons as to why. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their opinions on this terrible crime. Did O.J. do it? Did you feel differently about his guilt or innocence before watching? 

  • How does this drama view O.J. Simpson? Are characters supposed to relate to him? Like him? Believe in his innocence? What about the way he's presented brings you to this conclusion?

  • Have you seen the actors in this drama in any other movies or on any TV shows? Was it hard to forget these other characters as you watched? What does it mean to be "typecast"? Are any of these actors typecast? 

TV details

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