ESPN’s “30 for 30” series has been responsible for some of the better sports-themed documentaries of recent years (Peter Berg’s King’s Ransom, on the trade of Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles; Ron Shelton’s Jordan Rides the Bus, in which Michael Jordan retires from the NBA to play minor-league baseball) by understanding a simple rule: Sports stories get more interesting the further afield they run from the sport in question.
Ezra Edelman’s sprawling five-part epic O.J.: Made in America follows that rule to a tee. It is not just a high point for the series, it’s one of the great long-form documentaries you will ever see.
“I thought he was a has-been.” That’s Marcia Clark, no sports fan, in Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America. She’s describing her reaction to hearing about O.J. Simpson being wanted for double murder. Clark would spend an incredible-to-believe nine months in a courtroom trying to put him behind bars for those murders. But given the portrait of Simpson that emerges from Edelman’s masterfully dense, dramatic, and journalistic five-part documentary, it’s likely that the one-time sports star and permanent celebrity wannabe would be more offended by Clark thinking he was a has-been than a murderer…
Here’s the trailer: