Most long-form documentaries that examine a highly publicized murder trial or focus on an alleged murderer (think “The Jinx” or “Making a Murderer”) will spend its final chapter exploring why the person in focus of the murders did or didn’t do it.
ESPN’s documentary “O.J.: Made in America” doesn’t go down that path, and instead, for part five, which aired on Saturday night, provides a sad, darkly comedic coda to the O.J. Simpson story.
Director Ezra Edelman’s look at the aftermath of the not-guilty verdict is perfectly wrapped up by a helicopter pilot tailing Simpson being dropped off back at his house from prison who says, “Alright, let’s get out of all this bull—-.”
With the trial behind us, we are thrown into the pitiful life Simpson has led since.
Run out of Brentwood by those who think he really did the murders and then fleeing to Florida to protect himself from paying the $33.5 million he was ordered to pay Ron Goldman’s family in the civil case, Simpson falls into a lifestyle of debauchery.
Group sex, drugs, and hanging out with questionable characters are the new norm in Simpson’s life. And with the murder being the only thing he can cash in on, he tries to do just that by writing a book titled, “If I Did It.”
Then there’s the 2007 Las Vegas incident, Simpson’s most costly mistake.
Edelman interviews most of the players involved in what has led to Simpson’s current incarceration. You can’t help but laugh through most of the retelling of it, in which Simpson attempts to reclaim personal effects that have been sold without his permission, because most involved didn’t know why they were following Simpson in the first place.
But after being arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping, there was no dream team to help him this time. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
To some, like Ron Goldman’s father, it’s justice; to others, like dream-team member Carl Douglas, it’s nothing but payback from those who thought Simpson was guilty for the murders.
The greatest thing about “Made in America” is Edelman doesn’t interview Simpson. In many ways Simpson today is no longer the story. The man who ran through the airport in the Hertz commercial is no more. Some would make the point he was never that guy to begin with.
America created Simpson and it destroyed him. Edelman just draws us a map of how it happened.
A very memorable map.
Watch the entire “O.J.: Made In America” documentary on the Watch ESPN app.