My guilty pleasure in life is award shows. Sure, they are way too long, and sure way too much time is spent on talking about whom is wearing what dress. But I can get over that. There’s something about having things, like awards, to measure success. It makes Hollywood more interesting.
I love sports for the same reason. Having championship rings and MVP awards just stirs the caldron of riveting conversation. How many years ago would we have given up on the Lebron/Jordan debate had we not been given tangible units to compare one to the other?
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way, and that’s why I’m writing this. My proof: everyone seems to get so mad at award shows when their favorites don’t win. Just like when their sports teams lose. We spent years putting up with Leonardo Dicaprio Oscar memes. It was that outrage that finally landed Leo the golden statue we all so desperately wanted him to win. He just wasn’t that good in The Revenant. At least not as good as Michael Fassbender was in Steve Jobs. It was more of a lifetime achievement award. Kind of like The Departed was for Marty.
But the problem is we let lesser known, award show stalwarts like Transparent and Julia-Louis Dreyfus turn us off to award shows. We want the actors, directors, and shows we know to take home the big prize.
But there is a lot to gain from an envelope that reads a different name than we had hoped.
A great example of this took place at this year’s Emmy Awards. FX’s American Crime: The People vs. O.J. Simpson pulled off a clean sweep in the in the mini-series/TV movie category. Like most millennials, I had only heard of The People vs. O.J. It wasn’t on any of the popular streaming sites like other true crime shows, such as Making a Murder or The Night of. And who wants to watch something on a cable network’s whim?
I have to admit, I was a little perturbed, myself, when I saw the show win award after award. However, I was also intrigued.
I hopped in my imaginary time machine, and made a trip to the local video store. I wish I had my Nike Shocks and plaid shorts with me, too. I went into that store and rented all 10 episodes—four DVDs—and never looked back. It was on of the best TV watching decisions I’d ever made.
I had watched the ESPN documentary on the O.J. murder case, so I knew all the details. But damn, does some good, old-fashion, Hollywood dramatization make things awesome.
This miniseries gets a lot of things right, especially historically. Each episode focuses on the key moments of the case. The white Bronco chase, the racists cop’s tapes, the frustrated jury, and the famous gloves all got enough screen time to really drive home their importance. On an all-encompassing scale, racial tension in Los Angeles, overwhelming evidence, and the impact public opinion had on the controversial ruling provided a consistent message throughout the show.
The soundtrack kicked ass too. O.J. and his tribe of big money attorneys’ courtroom entrance to the song “Black Superman” was one of the best Hollywood had ever produced. It’s right there with the Joker entering to “Party Man” in Batman, and Apollo Creed coming out to “Living in America” in Rocky IV. And Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage” has been coolier than when Johnny Cochran was backiflying O.J. ‘s white bread mansion.
Where The People vs. O.J. really took its steps into the mini-series pantheon was evident at the Emmys: the acting. My god, the acting was fantastic.
My two favorite performances came from Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta. Brown was fantastic as prosecutor Christopher Darden. The racial conflict of interest that the aloof, but principled Darden tried so desperately to avoid was the centerpiece of his character. Brown and Sarah Paulson may not have convinced the TV jury O.J. was guilty, but they convinced me.
Travolta was ever more fantastic as Robert Shapiro. If I ever become famous, and if I ever get into any legal trouble Shapiro will be the first person I call. If he’s unavailable, I’ll call Travolta.
I could go on all day about how fucking awesome this show was. I really could. That’s not really the point here, though.
Award shows are a time of celebration. Just like in sports, we love watching our favorites hoist the trophies over their heads. However, unlike sports, you can become fans of multiple, dare I say, all the participants. There’s a lot of good TV out there. Don’t let petty frustrations get in your way of watching it.