Witches, Then Freaks, Now O.J. Simpson: Murder Trial to Be the Focus of ‘American Horror Story’ Spin-Off
Ryan Murphy, pioneer of the drastically-different-yet-eerily-similar Glee and American Horror Story (they’re both just so cheery), has announced his latest TV venture. And it’s something just as offbeat: a 10-episode TV adaptation of Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” which will form the first season of his newly minted American Crime Story spin-off series. Which we all saw coming, obviously.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy is recruiting some top courtroom talent for what’s being titled American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (screenwriters of The People vs. Larry Flynt) are scripting the first two episodes, while Murphy will direct an unknown amount. The People v. O.J. Simpson, which started off as a Fox miniseries before being shipped over to FX, will focus on the trial – and the hodgepodge of media crazy that followed it – from the perspective of the lawyers. And as you can assume from its American Something Story moniker, the series is an anthology, with each successive season covering a different real-life crime. Presumably others as hotly-debated as the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.
Unlike American Horror Story, where an immortal severed head is forced to watch Civil Rights Movement protest footage to cure that head of its racism, American Crime Story has the potential to be really messed up. Think about it, Murphy wouldn’t create an American Something Story brand without some kind of connective tissue between American Stories Crime and Horror. Right? Murphy confirms it, in so many words: “This is an exciting project for me, as I’ve been looking for the right property which could serve as an extension of the American Horror Story brand I love so much” There it is, “the American Horror Story brand.” And what is it that defines the American Horror Story brand more than an overall sense of batshit crazy?
Imagine a TV adaptation of the O.J. Simpson trial that boils over with just as much deranged melodrama as each successive season of AHS. In a way, it almost sounds disrespectful to the parties involved. Brown and Goldman were real people who were tragically killed not too long ago, and Murphy and company are lumping their deaths into the same franchise that’s about to launch 13 straight hours of deformed people chanting “Gooba-Gobble, one of us!” It’s sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. People are going to want bloodshed and a 30-foot wall of sheer ridiculousness from anything sandwiched by the words “American” and “Story.” But given how badly the O.J. Simpson trial bisected the US on the issue of race, people might not want that kind of stuff hashed up by a series with an American Horror Story level of so-dumb-it’s-fun extremity.
Or maybe they would. It’s not like AHS played it safe with similar topics in the past. There was that whole “racist killer’s severed head sobs while watching Civil Rights protest footage, black people shot to death one after another in the next room” bit, after all. Maybe something as utterly demented as “O.J. Simpson Joins the American Horror Story Family” is just what society needs to prove the O.J. Simpson kerfuffle is truly a thing of the past.
Or maybe it’ll launch a whole new series of race riots. Which, conveniently, can be the subject matter for American Crime Story’s Season Two.