This episode of American Crime Story establishes how the complicated issue of race became of the centerpiece of O.J. Simpson’s trial. Marcia Clark put this best when suggesting the jury at Simpson’s trial should consist of, “rich, middle-aged white men.” These are Simpson’s peers, and nothing says it better than his Dream Team of lawyers. Each of them has a different set of motivations. Shapiro, for example, knows that his client is probably guilty. Shapiro of course doesn’t care. Seeing Shapiro react to what people say, especially when he talks to John Cochran, is astounding. John Travolta does an excellent job at conveying these subtle moments.
Robert Kardashian has a bit of a spotlight in this episode, and he’s just as clueless, if not outright in denial, about Simpson’s guilt. His wife knows that Simpson killed Nichole, but that doesn’t matter to Kardashian. It plays into the whole concept of women not being believed. A man can beat women like Jian Gomeshi, a man can rape women like Bill Cosby, and a man can even kill his ex-wife like O.J. Simpson, but because they’re celebrities it can’t be true. All the evidence is there, but no one will believe these women. It’s one of the longest-running double standards in our society.
This is why Marcia Clark stands by her case, and is determined to believe a dead woman’s cries for help. Clark read the initial transcripts for Nichole’s 911 calls. She doesn’t just see Nichole as a single mother brutally murdered. Clark also sees a woman who couldn’t be believed. Here is where O.J.’s privilege comes back into play, because he’s treated with the same privilege as Kardashian would have. Simpson is miffed that his country club buddies won’t visit him in jail. He’s on trial for murder, and that’s his biggest concern?
Marcia Clark is surrounded by white privilege in her male coworkers. Often it seems like Clark’s male coworkers dismiss her passion for melodrama. But Clark didn’t get where she is without serious tenacity, and she knows that Simpson’s Dream Team has serious pull. She sees the pitfalls where her colleagues don’t. Clark immediately finds an ally in Christopher Darden. Darden was the first to point out Simpson’s white privilege-like social status in Episode 1. Darden also sees the white privilege advantage in Shapiro, Kardshian, and Bailey. The three rich white men know how to play the game with racial politics, and that’s their advantage from being on the outside looking in.