OJ Simpson's Unexpected Impact Beyond The ‘Trial Of The Century’

oj simpson holding up gloved hands
Leslie Grover-Taylor
April 15, 2024

Lights. Camera. Courtroom action. Every minute of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial was televised. Yet despite the media frenzy surrounding the “not guilty” verdict, the repercussions of Simpson's case went far beyond the courtroom. While the verdict ultimately divided the nation largely along racial lines, there was also another consequence.

Reality television.  The cameras in the 1994 Simpson courtroom rolled constantly, and the nation was obsessed with Simpson. A Black man who had been a beloved celebrity athlete and actor now stood accused of murdering his white ex-wife and her friend.

The Simpson trial gave us the ingredients for what is considered good reality TV: sex, lies, betrayal, contention, and unforgettable supporting characters.

Simpson’s trial helped build the groundwork for today’s televised courtroom trials and true crime reality shows. More than that, the civil trial and second criminal trial that followed proved that justice was not blind when it came to Black defendants, regardless of their fame or wealth.

Simpson’s legacy is complex. The ways his trials and achievements impact us have yet to be fully discovered. Regardless, Simpson’s life does allow us to radically reimagine what justice truly means for us and our communities.