American Crime Story has been reliably solid so far, releasing two self-contained series that explore high-profile criminal trials through some fresh angles. The O.J. Simpson trial and the Gianni Versace assassination are well-known but poorly understood stories in recent American history, and the show helped humanize the characters involved without straying too far from the facts.
Impeachment has a much tougher task, taking on the mother of all sex scandals in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) is a spot-on choice to play Lewinsky and Sarah Paulson looks pretty unrecognizable as Linda Tripp, the woman who recorded Lewinsky’s phone calls about her relationship with Clinton.
Playing Bubba himself, Clive Owen is definitely a big get for the series, though he doesn’t really look like Clinton. Edie Falco (The Sopranos) is more convincing as the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Billy Eichner of all people will play the infamous Matt Drudge, whose fledgling Drudge Report was the first outlet to report the Lewinsky scandal after Newsweek killed the story.
There’s a lot of tricky needles to thread here. The scandal’s broad themes of consent, accountability and power imbalance are talked about very differently today than they were in the ’90s, and subsequent political sex scandals from Anthony Weiner’s to the most recent former President’s have all taken place under Clinton’s shadow. Lewinsky has been open about her feelings in recent years, detailing the enormous pressure of being a young woman who gets propositioned by the world’s most powerful man. She’s a producer on the show, which hopefully gives her the ability to tell her side of the story in a way she never was as a White House intern who became a subject of nation-wide scorn and mockery during the trial that made her infamous.
We’ll see how it all goes on September 7, when the show premiers.