By Jeff Jensen
December 08, 2016 at 07:10 PM EST
ILLUSTRATION by LINCOLN AGNEW for EW

The American tragedy that is the life of O.J. Simpson contains a multitude of themes that sum up the story of us, right here, right now.

Like the landscape artists who mythologized the West, filmmaker Ezra Edelman gave himself a massive canvas — a five-part, eight-hour docuseries — to craft a richly reported portrait of the football legend and deconstruct the culture that shaped, enabled, and exploited him. Edelman drilled down on race and image-making, revealing how Simpson ran away from his identity and refashioned it so he could flourish in white society and in business.

But Edelman also explored the ironies of that makeover, showing how Simpson became a symbol for Los Angeles’ long-­suffering African-American community and provided an opportunity to strike back against racist, brutal policing. Where this epic was most powerful were the many moments in which interview subjects were captured confronting — ­or denying — their roles in creating Simpson and producing miscarriages of justice that still trouble us today. We see ourselves in O.J.: Made in America. Do we dare look?

See EW’s full list of the 20 best (and five worst!) TV shows of 2016 here. For more on the year’s best in pop culture, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly when it hits newsstands on Friday, or buy it here now – and don’t forget to subscribe.

 

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