In American Crime Story, Sarah Paulson's Marcia Clark Is a 'Feminist Hero'

According to Vanity Fair, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story will explore the gender dynamics that underpinned the perception of prosecutor Marcia Clark. Played by Sarah Paulson, the series will tackle Simpson’s history of domestic abuse as well as Clark’s “presence as a powerful woman in the courtroom.”


In an interview with the magazine, producer Nina Jacobson said, “People were so un-self-conscious in the chauvinism that was applied to [Clark]. She was going through a divorce at the time, was a single mom with two kids. Your heart goes out to her.”

An episode appropriately titled “Marcia Marcia Marcia” will delve into the gender bias that affected both the public’s perception of her and the courtroom’s dynamics. VF notes that the particular episode will cover Clark’s famous haircut and her attempts to balance single motherhood with a demanding courtroom schedule. At one point of the infamous trial, Clark asked that the court session finish on time so she could pick up her children, a request that was mocked by defense attorney Johnny Cochrane. And then, of course, there was all of the gender-focused coverage of Clark’s hair and clothes.


VF’s Katey Rich writes:

Clark is not an uncomplicated hero; she fails to understand the racial complexities of the case until it is much too late, and is often as hard on her colleagues as she is on the defense team. But in the context of the show, behavior derided as “shrill” or “bitchy” in the courtroom becomes just one part of a well-rounded, incredibly relatable woman [...]

It’s clear that Paulson and her producers want to show an intricate portrait of Clark, one that VF describes as a potential “feminist hero;” or, at least, a woman struggling with a series of seeming impossible demands.

For her part, Paulson seems excited by the opportunity to play Clark. The two met while American Crime Story was shooting. “It was a very extraordinary thing. It felt like I was meeting Meryl Streep or something,” Paulson told Entertainment Weekly. “I had a great deal of sympathy for her,” she added.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


ad infinitum

Do anyone else ever irrationally dislike actors after they star in projects you hate? I loathed Studio 60 so deeply it still makes me shudder to think about, and I can never see Sarah Paulsen without thinking of it. I know it’s not remotely her fault that Aaron Sorkin is a self-plagiarizing blowhard who uses his TV shows to endlessly rehash his personal issues, and yet.

Matthew McConaughey is another one. I have never forgiven him for Fragile.