The O.J. crew is back at it in this week’s American Crime Story, and with only four episodes to go, we’re on the fast track to a verdict. (SPOILER: it’s gonna come back “not guilty.”) But as always, it’s outside the courtroom where you’ll find the real drama. Romance is blossoming. Action and intrigue are at an all time high. Past secrets are coming back to haunt. The gloves, so to speak, are coming off. But in this otherwise enjoyable mashup of fantasy and reality it’s important to remember that real lives and real stories are being portrayed.
More than anything, tonight's episode, “Marcia Marcia Marcia,” offers a pretty damning portrait of what can happen to the victims of that other, harsher, American justice system: the tabloid news cycle. Our permed-out heroine can’t seem to catch a break in her titular mid-season-ish finale, forced to live publicly as a high powered woman in an era before think pieces and Twitter. Today, Complex Pop brings you Just the Ma'am’s Facts: who leaked those topless photos? Did she and Farrah really have the same stylist? Who is that lady? Read on in this Mostly Marcia fact check.
True or False: The author of the book Looks Aren't Everything, They're the Only Thing called Clark "frump incarnate."
It doesn’t look like that book actually exists, so this particular sound bite was false. But was Clark’s appearance skewered nightly on prime time TV? Definitely.
True or False: Clark and Darden swayed romantically to "That Lady."
Actually, weirdly, true. At least according to Darden. In his book In Contempt, the soulful prosecutor recounted the pair’s late nights, writing: “Usually, our evenings together didn't start until 10 P.M. or so and consisted of a few drinks after long days in court and in our offices. We'd stay up late, drinking wine.” As for the dancing, that seems to have taken place at Marcia’s house, not in the office. Darden writes about bringing his CD collection over one night (!!) and even name drops the Isley Brothers. Obviously, the press was all over it at the time.
True or False: Clark was offended by Cochran's courtroom teasing "as a mother and as a woman," and later broke down in tears.
We looked through transcriptions and couldn’t find this particular quote. It’s probably an exaggeration. Clark also recently told the Daily Beast that she had to keep her “poker face” on in court, so no crying, and no emotional (albeit deserved) tirades against a sexist system.
True or False: Ms. Lopez shrugged on the witness stand.
There was never a shrug, but it definitely wouldn’t have been out of character. According to the New York Times in ‘95: “Some of her answers were non sequiturs, others sarcastic; many questions she brushed aside with a simple, ‘If you say so.’” You can read up more about Lopez here.
True or False: F. Lee Bailey decided to ask Fuhrman "point blank" about his use of "the most powerful word in the English language."
True. The transcriptions are almost as jarring to read as his questions must have sounded in court that day, or as they did on American Crime Story this week, and not just because we were forced to read them in ALL CAPS. Bailey knew exactly what he was doing, and if the move seemed risky, it still paid off.
True or False: Bailey brought in a size small Brooks Brothers glove to use in a jury demonstration.
True. Bailey got called out after he tried to pull a glove-related stunt—foreshadowing?—with Marcia even quipping about its meager measurements: “I guess it’s Mr. Bailey’s.” Damn! She pulled a Rubio before Rubio!
True or False: The LA Times claimed Cochran had "his own history" with domestic abuse.
We did some searching in the LA Times database and found the article in question. Cochran’s ex-wife Barbara Jean Berry said Cochran “physically struck, beat and inflicted severe injury” during their marriage. While it doesn’t seem there was any phone conversation between the two before the story went public, Cochran did claim that the whole thing was a play for her to get possession of their home. It looks like this is true.
True or False: Clark's estranged husband held a press conference saying her need to get home early was a lie.
Another week, another rogue press conference. There isn’t any footage of this exchange, nor was Clark’s early exit mentioned in any transcripts. But Gordon did file for sole custody, saying that his soon-to-be-ex “does not arrive home until 10 P.M. and even when she is home she is working.”
True or False: Nude photos of Clark at the beach were leaked by her first ex-husband.
We wish this could have been false, and that powerful women couldn’t be taken down so easily through lazy attacks against her private life and body, but this was completely true.
True or False: The stylist who gave Clark her makeover modeled the look after his work with Farrah Fawcett.
Not quite. The man responsible for her second, improved look was Allen Edwards, a celebrity stylist who, yes, worked with Farrah Fawcett. (He was also behind the “frump” cut for Diane Keaton in Annie Hall). But that happened before cut number two was cut number one, which we saw this week, and which was supposed to be a simple “wash and wear perm.” Cut one brought snickering, cut two brought applause.
True or False: Judge Ito joked that he didn't recognize her when she came into court that morning.
This didn’t happen according to transcriptions. But people on the trial did joke around a bit, and everyone was pretty rough on her looks, so she still might have felt some shade.
True or False: Daytime soaps got bumped so the networks could air full coverage of the trial.
Not only was this scheduling bump true, but the trial has actually been blamed for the death of soaps entirely. Just like the debates on whether to air some insane sports coverage or play the Bronco chase, TV heads had to figure out which drama viewers cared about more: scripted or reality. The choice they made would continue to dominate the daytime TV landscape for (at least) another twenty years.
True or False: In a radio poll asking if Clark was a "bitch or a babe," Darden voted "babe."
Like with “frump incarnate,” we don’t doubt something like this was asked, but we aren’t about to call it 100 percent fact. As for Darden calling in, we’re chalking it up to cutesy creative license.