A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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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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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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