Fierce lady! The Tuesday, March 8, episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, aptly titled “Marcia Marcia Marcia,” was all about prosecutor Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson). From her divorce to her public image, the audience got to see what it was really like for the woman helming the murder trial against O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.).
Rough Day at the Office(s)
The episode began with Marcia in a courtroom, battling it out with her husband and his lawyers to determine how much child support he would pay her. She kept interrupting the proceedings, prompting the judge to remind her that in this particular courtroom, she was a client, not a lawyer. The judge then snappily told her, “I’m not Lance Ito,” which was a sly reference to the more congenial judge (played by Kenneth Choi) in the O.J. trial.
She saw him minutes later as she rushed out of her custody hearing and into a different courthouse to perform as the prosecuting attorney in the murder trial. She arrived out of breath, and Ito made a snide remark about her lateness.
Following a day of emotional testimony from witnesses, Marcia arrived home to discover that the news was declaring her clothes a “mess” and saying it was all anyone could talk about. Her little son, Travis, over whom she and her husband were battling for custody, tried to distract her with small talk and a hug, which is when she began to cry.
In the next scene, it only got worse for Marcia when her husband petitioned for primary custody, claiming she was too distracted with the “trial of the century” to adequately care for their sons. O.J.'s children became a focus moments later when a detective being cross-examined claimed that the reason so much attention was given to O.J. the night of his ex-wife’s murder, before he was even a suspect, was because the cops were putting the kids’ well-being first.
The jury was not convinced that the cops weren’t “cutting corners” to convict O.J., but Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) was fine with that. His goal was simply to paint the police as untrustworthy, and that’s exactly what every detective he brought to the stand in the coming days helped him do.
Beware the "B—" in Courtroom 23 (or 9-310, Whatever)
Marcia, fortunately, had her prosecuting partner, Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown), on hand to cheer her up later. He first told her that he was a parent, too, and had grown distant from his daughter when he began focusing more on his career. Then the two danced around their office together, proving that while the media was calling Marcia “frumpy,” not everyone believed it.
The next day, while getting ready for work, Chris heard a radio broadcast encouraging listeners to call in and vote on whether Marcia was “a bitch or a babe.” He dialed the phone, shouted, “I vote babe!” into it and hung up.
Once in the courtroom, Johnnie unleashed a plan to derail Marcia, announcing that one of his witnesses was moving and needed to have her testimony heard upfront, five months ahead of its scheduled time. The jury was dismissed so that Judge Ito could hold a special hearing on the issue, but Marcia told him she had to go take care of her kids and couldn’t stay late. The entire court was put into recess until the next day.
Somehow, unbelievably, things got even worse for Marcia when her boss awkwardly asked her if she wanted media consultants to help her with her appearance, so the media would stop making fun of her looks.
She finally snapped back when Johnnie made a rude comment about her “childcare crisis” the next day, standing up and reaming him for being “totally out of line.” The move may have been perceived as more “bitch” than “babe,” but he did not belittle her again, giving her the opportunity to question the witness who was getting ready to move. In doing so, she blew apart all of the witness’ contradictory statements.
As if that weren’t enough of a blow to Johnnie and the witness he was depending on to derail the prosecution, the press was on hand to congratulate Marcia as she left the courtroom. Only one reporter went after Johnnie, asking if he would give a statement on his past history of domestic abuse. Johnnie declined to comment and the reporter threatened, “We’re printing it soon!”
Guilty in the Court of Public Opinion
Marcia’s husband, Gordon, appeared on TV to say that she had called him to take care of their kids and hadn’t needed to rush home to care for them at all. He claimed he was going public with that information to stop her from using their sons as a pawn in the trial.
Johnnie, too, was using pawns. He called his former spouse to talk to her about the reporter poking into his history of domestic violence. He offered to give her money from an apartment building they had owned together, which he had recently sold. Whether or not she took the hush money was not made clear, as the show jumped to a new scene.
Marcia went to the salon, asking for a “softer” look. When she appeared in court the next day, everyone was silent and shocked. She did not get the reaction she had hoped for with her short new haircut from everyone, but Chris wrote, “It’s fantastic! I love it!” on his legal pad in her view.
Unfortunately, the press wasn’t as kind as Chris. “Curls of Horror” and “Marcia’s Hair Verdict: GUILTY” were the headlines on every magazine and tabloid when she checked out at the supermarket later. Her cashier held up a box of tampons from her cart, saying, “Uh-oh! Guess the defense is in for one hell of a week, huh?”
Ugh. Gag Us.
The Naked Truth
All too soon, after all the drama he caused among the prosecution, Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) was called to the stand. He was confident and aggressive as he answered Marcia’s questions, and everything he said seemed fair and honest. He appeared to be undoing all of the other bad answers given by the previous detectives.
Too bad for him, F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) was ready on the defense team. He grilled Mark about the possibility that he might have planted evidence. Marcia made a joke about how the size “small” glove Lee was presenting as O.J.’s must have belonged to him, not the football star. (You know what they say about men with small hands, don’t you?) Humiliated, he switched gears and asked the detective if he had ever used the N-word. Under oath, Mark said, “No, sir.”
Mark repeatedly denied ever having used the slur, especially within the last 10 years, but Marcia barely had time to process that before a new scandal was breaking. Her other ex-husband (before Gordon) had sold naked photos of her on vacation to a gossip magazine. There was nothing she could do. Her boss, the public and everyone and anyone else had already seen it.
Back in the courtroom, she began to cry. The only woman on the defense’s team looked at her sympathetically. Judge Ito recessed the court. She cried on the floor of her office until Chris came in. Then, she leaned on his shoulder and cried on him.
Tell Us: Did Marcia’s appearance unfairly impact the case?
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs on FX Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.
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