Impeachment: American Crime Story Review – The Clinton-Lewinsky Drama Is A Salacious Sensation | TV & radio

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Tthere is nothing stranger than the recent past. For this reason, it can be a gold mine for writers, and none have mined as much of it in recent years as Ryan Murphy. The late 90s is his most fertile vein, providing the three parts of his American Crime Story anthology. The opening season gave it its first – and unexpected – success after Glee in the glorious The People v OJ Simpson, which told the story of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s 1994 murders and the most infamous murder trial. of the modern (media) era. Who followed. Then came The Assassination of Gianni Versace, about the creator’s death at the hands of Andrew Cunanan in 1997. Now we have Impeachment (BBC Two), which focuses on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that has occupied minds, headlines and the House of Representatives. for much of 1998.

This new 10-part opus, written primarily by Sarah Burgess, puts the bureaucrat Linda Tripp – played by her most revered repertoire company, Sarah Paulson – rather than the US President or his forward-thinking intern. The drama opens in 1998 with her leading the FBI to Monica (Beanie Feldstein) and taking her to a hotel for questioning (“It’s for your good,” Tripp assures her) as part of the investigation. Paula Jones and the ongoing trial. We then go back to 1993, the suicide of Vince Foster and the Whitewater Inquiry, billed as the beginning of Tripp’s shift from a loyal (albeit abrasive and self-aggrandizing) White House official to an embittered employee ready to plant a bomb. metaphorically under the square. .

Tripp passed away last year, and – no matter what your politics or how you remember the time – it’s hard to watch Impeachment without feeling like it freed its creators to treat the character with cruelty. We are shown munching or eating dismal microwave meals on every occasion (Paulson apologized for wearing a big costume to portray her) and even with an actor as good as Paulson tweaking every nuance available. of the script, Tripp stays dangerously close to bitter. witch territory. She is an unfinished fiftieth avatar who must surely watch out for any woman who does not take the trouble to bring sweetness and light to all as long as she has the chance.

In that sense, it’s a weaker installment than The People vs.OJ Simpson, which tended to complement and re-watch people who had long been reduced by popular culture to caricatures. But it holds up well in terms of propulsive and addictive drama. It’s a rich, soapy mousse full of comedy and irresistible fullness. And knowing the outcome only increases, rather than decreases, the pleasure. You can hardly look away as the dominoes are mounted in a tantalizing way. Tripp is unceremoniously ejected from her glamorous job in the White House, where she served under Bush, and exiled to the Pentagon. She meets literary agent Lucianne Goldberg (the powerful Margo Martindale), who urges her to start writing an insider account of politics in the hopes of a book deal. After two years simmering in her dead end job as the Clinton administration defeats the America around her, she meets a lonely 22-year-old Monica – also exiled to the Pentagon, but for very different reasons – who is eager to ‘have a friend. Especially one so ready to listen to her trials as a young woman in love with a married man, much more powerful.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, former state employee Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) is set to sue the president for sexual harassment. Or rather, other people – possibly with the support of Republicans led by Ann Coulter (Cobie Smulders) – are preparing her to sue the president. Jones herself can hardly bring herself to describe what the then governor did. But she can, she suggests, draw her penis. “It is taking a dramatic turn. “

Like The People and, to a lesser extent, Versace, Impeachment gives us the chance to look at ourselves and pivotal historical moments and reexamine the critical lenses through which we’ve seen them. It doesn’t tackle the underlying problem of misogyny that turned Lewinsky’s life and ruined the border as narrowly as it did with race relations and homophobia in previous seasons – although by making Tripp the main character, he also avoids a lot of potential. itch traps – but as pure entertainment he almost returned to top of Murphy’s form.

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