Our Penance for O.J.: Twelve Hours of Competing JonBenet Documentary Shows!


I think we can all agree on two basic premises here: 1) The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and O.J. Simpson: Made in America were singularly remarkable pieces of television, revisiting a watershed moment in our celebrity-and crime-obsessed culture with intelligence, wit, insight, and skill, and 2) the rip-offs and imitations that they will prompt are going to be fucking intolerable. We’ve already heard about the People-style Law & Order true crime spin-off focusing on the trial of the Menendez brothers; now it seems we’ll be treated to not one, but two documentary mini-series about the unsolved murder of pint-sized beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.

CBS announced its three-part, six hour Ramsey miniseries, Case Closed, back in April; it comes from 48 Hours producer Tom Forman and, if viewers tune in, it will serve as the debut season for a true-crime anthology doc series. But now Indiewire reports Investigation Discovery (with the help of the Weinstein Company and, ugh, the National Enquirer) will air its own three-part docu-series, titled – in a surely accidental echo of PeopleJonBenet: An American Murder Mystery. And in a total Lambada/ The Forbidden Dance move, they have set a premiere date six days before CBS’s.

So yes, this September, we will get a total of 12 hours of JonBenet Ramsey documentary material. Yay, Golden Age of Television!