“The People v. O.J. Simpson” finale, which aired Tuesday on FX, was television at its best. Ryan Murphy deftly helmed both the tension-filled scenes leading up to reading of the verdict and those dealing with the aftermath. Indeed, over the course of all 10 episodes, this limited series was a master class in storytelling with Golden-Globe winning scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (“The People vs. Larry Flynt”) adapting Jeffrey Toobin‘s best-seller.
Both critics and audiences embraced this freshman offering under the “American Crime Story” banner that ooks to be a lock for an Emmy nomination as Best Limited Series with top competitors likely to include FX’s own “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Hotel.” It attracted upwards of 10 million viewers every week and scored a jaw-dropping 97% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 90 at MetaCritic. And the final installment did not disappoint according to these key critics.
Maureen Ryan (Variety) raves: “Like every other hour of this fantastic season, the writers, cast and directors dug into the characters and circumstances in ways that made the narrative come alive in powerful ways. The verdict may have been a foregone conclusion, but this set of specific and complicated responses from these fully realized characters were absolutely worth seeing. The crisp, wonderfully modulated finale felt fresh, important and vital, not least because even though that trial is over — the reconstructed version of it, anyway — the unfinished business of race still dominates American life today.”
Joe McGovern (Entertainment Weekly) notes: “The verdict itself, though magnificently staged, is in some ways the least interesting part of the finale. The 35 minutes of tears and cheers and postmortem analysis that follows is where the show soars with carefully deliberated gestures that offer an appropriate send-off to each of the main characters.”
Scott Tobias (New York) observes: “‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ has shown us moments we didn’t get to see in 1994 and 1995, but, miraculously, the writers and directors have also kept the tension high during all of the big courtroom moments and known outcomes. There’s a sense of dread that comes from the inevitable, and “The Verdict” is a crashing payoff to the slow-motion train wreck that’s been developing all season. Now that we understand the key players as human beings, in all their nobility and weakness, the personal stakes are ramped up.”
And Ken Tucker (Yahoo) remarks: “Rather than feeling bored by the dramatization of what I already know, I’ve been caught up in its dramatic momentum. A lot of the credit for this has to go to the almost crazily mixed-up acting styles of the main cast. Where Sarah Paulson has played it magnificently straight as prosecutor Marcia Clark, John Travolta has achieved a kind of Zen nuttiness as the serenely detached defense team attorney Robert Shapiro. Where Cuba Gooding, Jr., has wisely chosen not to do a full-on impression of Simpson, preferring instead to set himself the tricky task of presenting the athlete as a shut-down enigma, Sterling K. Brown seems to be channeling prosecutor Chris Darden’s complex inner workings — it’s a performance in which many conflicting ideas flicker across his face in any given scene.”
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