FX’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is TV’s smash of the season, striking a chord with viewers and critics alike. Of particular note is Sarah Paulson’s stellar performance as lead prosecutor Marcia Clark, a difficult role requiring steely strength and vulnerability in equal measure. Over the course of the long and highly publicized trial, the media ran Clark through the wringer — subjecting her manner, tone of voice, word choice and every aspect of her appearance (from her iconic perm to her clothing selections) to intense and frequently sexist scrutiny. If there’s a hero to be found on the show, it’s Clark. Her strong sense of morals and drive to succeed put her well above the bottom feeders scuttling around the trial. But the real Marcia Clark has taken issue with one major aspect of her portrayal.
Clark made an appearance today on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to speak about her recent experience with a new spike in her public profile due to the show, praising Ryan Murphy’s direction and Paulson’s performance. But after some good-natured up-buttering, Ellen turns the tables on Clark and asks her the million-dollar question: did she and her co-counsel Chris Darden really have a thing, as is heavily implied on the show?
Clark leaves the impression that the simmering romantic tension between Paulson and Brown on the show is a figment of Hollywood dramatization, though she never comes out and explicitly says that they never kissed. Watch closely: keeping her lawyerly wits about her, she nimbly sidesteps the question that Ellen repeatedly poses. It’s the same clever sort of obfuscation and tactical omission that ultimately won the O.J. trial for the defense, but here she puts it to use obscuring whether or not she and Darden actually smooched. She’d like us to believe they didn’t, but if they really never locked lips, what would stop her from saying so?