The initial concept behind “American Crime Story” was to dramatize famous true-crime stories that had captivated the media (and public), with the first outing tackling O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. By this point, Murphy’s cred allowed him to assemble what remains one of the finest casts ever assembled for a TV series, including Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown as prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, and Courtney B. Vance, Nathan Lane, and John Travolta as, respectively, defense attorneys Johnnie Cochrane, Robert Shapiro, and F. Lee Bailey. Then, of course, there were all the minor characters at the fringes of the “trial of the century” that captivated America, ranging from Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnussen) and Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) to LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman (Stephen Pasquale) and O.J. pal Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).
A critical and commercial smash, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” rates as one of Murphy’s crowning achievements, winning multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, and pretty much any other awards for which it was nominated. It was, no question, the prestige TV project of 2016. While there were several extraordinary throughout, it was Paulson’s portrayal of Clark, thrown headfirst into the media meat-grinder, that was — and still is — the heart and soul of the project, while Brown’s portrayal of Darden was a close second. Not surprisingly, both deservedly won Emmys.