It was less than two months ago that Sarah Palin emerged as the first major public figure to admit she had been “duped” by Sacha Baron Cohen for a mysterious new Showtime series called Who Is America? A lot has happened since then.
Over the past seven weeks, the British comedian most famous for playing characters like Ali G and Borat has convinced sitting Republican congressmen to endorse arming toddlers and forced a George state senator out of office for screaming the “N-word,” among other sometimes hilarious, always provocative stunts.
Despite Showtime’s attempts to tamp down expectations, it seemed inevitable that Baron Cohen would save Palin’s sit-down interview with Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick, PhD for the seventh and final episode this Sunday. But it was nowhere to be found, perhaps for legal reasons or simply because the comedian just didn’t think it was good enough.
Given how many prominent people had followed her lead in exposing themselves as targets before their appearances aired, a lot of viewers were left wondering if there were any genuine surprises still up the comedian’s sleeve. The answer to that question came Sunday night in the form of none other than the recently freed O.J. Simpson, who had made no attempts to get ahead of his talk with Baron Cohen’s Italian socialite character Gio Monaldo.
The O.J. bit came as a post-credits sequence after Dr. Ruddick sat down with an increasingly frustrated Barney Frank and Col. Errad Morad embarked on a particularly surreal journey with an older man who ended up posing as a “radical lesbian” who loved the HBO show Girls at the Women’s March in San Francisco.
“To good friends,” Baron Cohen’s Gio said, clinking champagne glasses with Simpson in what looked to be a dark Las Vegas suite. Within seconds, Baron Cohen was making overt references to the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in front of the former NFL star.
After the character’s girlfriend left the room, Baron Cohen confessed to Simpson, “She’s gorgeous, but sometimes I want to kill her.” Simpson seemed uncomfortable with all of the allusions to murder, but that didn’t stop him from high-fiving the host when he said he wanted to take her in a helicopter and drop her over the Grand Canyon. “Stop, stop,” Simpson said, simultaneously laughing and shaking his head.
When Baron Cohen suggested that his guest would have to introduce him to Johnnie Cochran, Simpson reminded him that his famous lawyer is no longer living. “What, you didn’t kill him too, did you?” Baron Cohen asked with another laugh.
From there, Baron Cohen did his best to get Simpson, who may or may not have realized he was being filmed based on the camera placement, to tell him what really happened to his wife that night in 1994.
“Well, first of all, she wasn’t my wife,” Simpson said, seemingly focused on the wrong part of the question. “We had been divorced and separated.” Asked how he “got away with it,” Simpson insisted, “Hey, hey, I didn’t get away with nothing.”
“Me and you, we’ve got something in common,” Baron Cohen told Simpson. “We’re both, how you say, ladykillers.”
“No, I didn’t kill nobody,” Simpsons replied, laughing hysterically.
As much as many viewers would have loved to see what Baron Cohen got Sarah Palin to say on camera, it was hard to imagine a more fitting capper to an insane season of television that came out of nowhere this summer.
And in the end, Palin got credit for her “inadvertent” work as a “Special Publicity Consultant.”