Commentary

New Drama 'The Fix' Retries O.J. In The Social Media Era

Our modern world looks none too pretty in the new crime drama called “The Fix” on ABC.

This series, which premiered last Monday, presents a fictionalized version of the O.J. Simpson murder case and imagines what would happen if the case were to play out today instead of in the pre-social media ’90s.

In “The Fix,” social media takes center stage as an unscrupulous and ruthless defense attorney employs a modern-day public relations guru to try and gin up support on social media for this show's version of O.J. -- a fictional, aging Hollywood movie actor named Sevvy Johnson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).

As in the real Simpson case, this fictional movie star was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, in this case a female friend. In “The Fix,” this acquittal took place in 2010 -- eight years before “The Fix” is supposed to take place in the present day (the show was produced principally last year, in 2018).

Now, he is back in the news after his current girlfriend turns up dead and he is once again a prime suspect.

This development brings back the female prosecutor in the first case -- a woman named Maya Travis (Robin Tunney) -- who took an eight-year sabbatical from work in the aftermath of the 2010 trial, in which she was vilified in the news media.

Tunney is pretty obviously playing a fictionalized version of Marcia Clark here -- the famed lawyer who was one of the L.A. prosecutors on the losing side of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial.

And since Clark is an executive producer of this series, and seems to have had a hand in creating it, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Clark has engineered a way, with ABC's help, to perhaps retry O.J., at least fictionally, and get a better outcome such as a guilty verdict.

The question of whether this will happen eventually cannot at all by answered by the first two episodes of “The Fix.” At this point early in the series, it is far from certain that this fictional O.J. even committed this new murder.

However, he is already being tried in the court of public opinion, and so is his prosecutor. She seeks closure and redemption. He seeks to be acquitted again, especially since he insists he didn't do it.

When the real O.J. criminal trial was going on, followed by the civil trial some time later, the proceedings were cited then (and continue to be cited) as one of the first real examples of how the outcome of a well-publicized trial can be affected or manipulated in the context of the then-new 24-hour news cycle, represented by the nascent cable news channels and Court TV.

“The Fix” tries to demonstrate that that was nothing compared to the news cycle we live in today, in which actual news -- i.e., facts -- is obscured by a cacophony of commentary both in the news media and on social media.

In “The Fix,” defense attorney Ezra Wolf (Scott Cohen) stages various stunts in which he appears live on social media to poke holes in the police investigation and try and steer their attention away from his client onto someone else.

When he goes too far with one of these stunts, he feels an unfamiliar emotion -- remorse. But his PR manager sets him straight. Says the PR man: “We're people of our time, and it's a terrible time.” In other words: Don't sweat it. This is the world we live in.

“The Fix” is nothing if not cynical. In fact, it may be the most cynical drama series on network TV this season.

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