For the first time since the original case, it seemed that 2016 was a peak-year for rehashing the O.J. Simpson trial from the '90s. Between the Emmy-winning The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and the Oscar-hopeful eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made In America, there was plenty of commentary and insight made available regarding the famous murder trial. But, the fascination didn't stay in 2016, and 2017 started off with the six-part docuseries Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence on Investigation Discovery. The docuseries may have only been ordered for six episodes, but could more new episodes of Is O.J. Innocent? be on the way after its Tuesday finale?
The Investigation Discovery series explores the work of private investigator William Dear, the author of the book O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It, who put forth a new theory for who could have committed the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. (O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the crimes during the criminal trial, but later found liable for the deaths in the civil trial.)
The series posits many theories as to what may have happened on the night of the murders, but they've already been met with some harsh criticism that could stop the show from pushing any further. Dear's theory in particular alleges that O.J.'s son, Jason, was allegedly behind the murders. O.J. case prosecutor Marcia Clark refuted this, telling Today that "Jason Simpson is the one they're saying is guilty. What is he going to do, say ‘it's not me — it's my dad?’ What a hideous thing for them to do. I can't even tell you how awful it is and it is baseless." (Jason was never considered a suspect in the case and was never charged in connection with it. Producers for the show reached out to Jason for comment on the allegations but did not hear back. Bustle was unable to reach him for comment.)
One of the show's investigators and Big Brother Season 16 winner Derrick Levasseur told The Hollywood Reporter that "It’s a very sore subject for certain people, and it’s very touchy. I expect that there will be some scrutiny behind it, especially the people that we investigate." Another recent true-crime docuseries faced similar scrutiny, when CBS' The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey alleged that her brother Burke was allegedly involved in the murder of the beauty pageant contestant. As a result of the accusation, CBS found themselves on the receiving end of a $750 million lawsuit from Burke Ramsey. Burke has always maintained his innocence, was never arrested in relation to his sister's death, and was formally cleared of suspicion in 2008 due to DNA evidence, according to CNN. Burke's lawyer Lin Wood told Bustle in a lengthy statement that the conclusion of the episode would result in legal action. The statement, which you can read in full here, read in part:
"In its desire to match or surpass the ratings and profits achieved by other networks in recent true crime series, CBS juxtaposed lies, misrepresentations, distortions and omissions with very few grains of truth to falsely accuse Burke Ramsey of causing JonBenét’s death in its docuseries The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey. ... The accusations of the CBS so-called “experts” lack substantial evidentiary support and contradict the conclusions reached by legitimate law enforcement authorities familiar with the evidence developed in the case. CBS’ false and unprofessional attacks on this young man are disgusting and revolting. ... Burke Ramsey shall seek redress against CBS for its outrageous accusations in a court of law."
At the time, CBS gave this statement to Bustle:
"The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey was meticulously and responsibly researched, and its information was responsibly presented. CBS stands by the broadcast in every regard."
Based on precedent, the ID series could be taking a big risk by making similar allegations about someone who was never charged or a suspect in relation to a crime. Although, unlike with JonBenét's case, no legal action has been threatened for this series at this time.
If the legal tightrope-walk doesn't keep Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence from returning, the show may not return over a lack of the series' namesake. Most of the details surrounding the case have been poured over obsessively for two decades. If new information manages to surface after the initial series finishes airing, then the show would have a perfectly good reason to return. Until then, it seems that Is O.J. Innocent? will be a one-time show that sought to upend what you'd always thought about the infamous crime.