FX’s upcoming The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story — not to be confused with ABC’s American Crime, also an anthology — is already looking to its future. The Ryan Murphy series will start its inaugural run by focusing on the O.J. Simpson trial, but Murphy and the show’s other producers (Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson) have apparently settled on plans for the second season (which seems typical of Murphy’s early mega-enthusiasm for his projects).
Even though The People v. O.J. Simpson’s popularity hasn’t been proven yet, let’s be real — Americans really love true crime stories. We have an entire network devoted to it (Investigation Discovery), as well as the pervasive popularity of NBC’s Dateline, the cultural juggernauts of NPR’s Serial podcast last year (focusing on the little-known case of Adnan Syed), HBO’s documentary series The Jinx, and Netflix’s recent documentary Making a Murderer, all of which seem to indicate we’re reaching Peak True Crime TV. (The idea is also fairly disconcerting).
According to THR, Jacobson says the hope for their series is to cut through the noise:
There is plenty of true crime stuff available on TV, but [this is about] the degree to which certain pieces come to stand for much more.
Murphy revealed that Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath will serve as the focus of Season 2 (which has not been officially ordered yet), and would follow six to eight characters in order to examine all sides of the tragedy.
So … Treme. Except not David Simon, so … American Crime. If you aren’t familiar with the latter, the ABC series spends a season looking at a (fictional) case through the lens of multiple characters, trying to pin down a truth that may never be found (or at least agreed upon), and essentially destroying everyone in the process. I didn’t love it, though at the time I praised its ambitions. Still, its execution was a slog. (I did love Treme, which wasn’t perfect, but was a fascinating journey).
Murphy went on to say that,
I want this show to be a socially conscious, socially aware examination of different types of crime around the world,” he said. “And in my opinion, Katrina was a f—ing crime — a crime against a lot of people who didn’t have a strong voice and we’re going to treat it as a crime. That’s what this show is all about.
The producers did note, however, that “O.J. is a hard act to follow.”
The People v. O.J. Simpson, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., John Travolta, Courtney B. Vance, David Schwimmer, and Sarah Paulson, premieres Tuesday, February 2nd on FX.