American Crime Story-Impeachment
𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 – 𝐒𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐡 𝐁𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧 𝐌𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐡𝐲
𝐍𝐨. 𝐨𝐟 𝐄𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐝𝐞𝐬 – 𝟏𝟎 𝐑𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 – 𝟓𝟎 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡
𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 – 𝐅𝐗, 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐲 + 𝐇𝐨𝐭𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫
American Crime Story came to the limelight because of the dramatized retelling of real life historical true crime events during important moments in American History. The first season dealt with The OJ Simpson Trial, the second season dealt with the murder of Gianni Versace while this season deals with the Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal. Both the last 2 seasons were popular and had emmy nominations and awards, though the first season is a far better season if concerned from a storytelling standpoint.
Since the three seasons are effectively anthologies, the third season’s story starts with Linda Tripp (a returning Sarah Paulson in an unflattering fatsuit), a former white house employee, who was removed from the white house and transferred to the Pentagon. There she became close confidantes with former white house intern and new employee of the Pentagon Monica Lewinsky, and during one of their chatas Monica revealed her secret – she had an affair and is currently in the midst of continuing said affair with the current President of the United States Bill Clinton. Tripp, a woman with an aggrandizing sense of self importance, decides to write a book about her experiences in the white house, and with the aavice of her literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, decides to tape her telephonic conversations with Monica, in the hopes of her catching her in the act recorded.
Obviously the story goes beyond that premise, giving a prurient and often voyeuristic look at something people have known for, but are still clamoring as a tale. But what works for American Crime Story – Impeachment is creator Sarah Burgess, because she is able to dial down the overall campy melodrama that Ryan Murphy is known for and we get a hint of in Episode 6, the episode which Murphy directs. Burgess manages to also paint a sympathetic but truthful picture of Monica Lewinsky, and the real Lewinsky being a producer helped I believe. Lewinsky shown here is a woman who is naïve, in love, frankly irritating at times, but slowly grows as she undergoes what is essentially a crucible caused due to betrayal of a confidante and broken-hearted by an abusive relationship. The show’s depiction of Lewinsky by Beanie Feldstein is compelling and highly watchable for all the right reasons. Similarly and perhaps contradictorily Sarah Paulson’s depiction of Linda Tripp is also watchable for all the wrong reasons. Tripp’s almost aggrandizing self importance borders on delusion at times, but Paulson also acts to give a sense of empathy there, inspite of all the layers of makeup covering her.
The makeup and production designs are always the highlights of a Murphy production, sometimes to a fault, which is why Clive Owen’s depiction of Clinton is especially jarring, considering he looks nothing like the former president. But he slowly grows on you, because Burgess and the team of writers manage to imbue the prime characters in this story with layers, both sinister as well as empathetic. Clinton’s depiction by Owen shows a man who is self aware, but also sinister and a man completely at the mercy of his whims, and used to privilege of getting away with it by acting on his whims. Historical accuracy is a bit of a wild card option but from a storytelling standpoint, this is a fascinating and interesting take. The supporting cast on the other hand mostly feels one note at times, barring a few exceptions like Colin Hanks. The show’s depiction of Paula Jones borders on caricature, while Cobie Smulders’ depiction of Ann Coulter is definitely theatrical and caricaturish. But all of these supporting characters ultimately service the main story concerning the three characters in the play, and the story of these three characters is suitably strong to carry through to the finish line.
As much as the cinematography and color pallete is suitably muted and dark to carry a sense of foreboding in relation to the “crime”, it is not until the last two episodes that the “crime” and necessity of impeachment actually comes into focus. Its admirable and the story is strong that the Lewinsky Clinton scandal as shown by Murphy and Burgess is a watchable tale, but the Criminality aspect of it comes so late in the picture, you start to wonder if it exists at all. The final nail in the coffin comes in the middle of the last episode, and by the time the show ends you realize that as a retelling of the scandal Impeachment works as a good old college try, but as an “American Crime Story”, it is barely one until the end.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.