American Crime Story – which The Hollywood Reporter labels an American cultural touchstone – is about to begin production on a political saga that is sure to incite controversy. And if timing is everything, then the when is just as crucial as the what in this case. Impeachment: American Crime Story will feature the real-life sexual adventure of President Bill Clinton and will be produced by none other than Monica Lewinsky.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Production of this potential blockbuster is scheduled for February 2020, with the premiere set for Sunday, September 27, 2020. It doesn’t take a political junkie to note that this is less than two months before the presidential election. Can’t you just see the run-up to the premiere now? Monica will be yukking it up with Joy Behar on The View and, in what would be a shameful play for ratings, perhaps even Chris Wallace will score Lewinsky for a spot on Fox News Sunday.
In announcing the production, an FX press release touted, “This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining. Impeachment: American Crime Story will likewise explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton presidency.”
Sarah Paulson will play the part of Linda Tripp, Annaleigh Ashford plays Paula Jones with Beanie Feldstein in the starring role as the young Monica Lewinsky. This could perhaps invoke duel and contradictory feelings: Who would want to watch this and who would want to miss it? The program is based on the book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, written by CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
In promoting Toobin’s book, an Amazon write up exclaims, “The Clinton scandals will shape forever how we think about the signature issues of our day – sex and sexual harassment, privacy and perjury, civil rights, and, yes, cigars.” As such, it might be best to DVR this one and watch it while the kids are safely tucked into bed. Amazon also claims Toobin “casts an insightful, unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time.” It’s difficult to imagine Toobin as unbiased, but whatever it is, the sex story involving Clinton (I did not have sexual relations with that woman!) and Lewinsky is not the finest of moments for Democrats.
This isn’t the first attempt of capturing the Clinton/Lewinsky drama for the tube – A & E aired a six-part documentary called The Clinton Affair in 2018. But American Crime Story is another kettle of fish altogether. It’s billed as a docudrama and has captured large audiences with previous programs on the OJ Simpson trial and the murder of Gianni Versace. Ratings, Emmys, and water-cooler political-cultural chatter are all part of the American Crime Story experience.
It’s difficult to imagine how dredging this story back up right before Americans go to the polls will help the Democrats’ cause.
Then again, the Dems could spin the topic into an opportunistic review of President Trump’s past sexual liaisons. Cue the Access Hollywood tape once more with feeling.
Bottom line: There are plenty of political angles to play regarding this one on both sides of the aisle. Yes, America loves a good sex scandal with political overtones and the Clinton/Lewinsky tryst provides excellent prime-time fodder. It’s difficult to imagine Impeachment not breaking the sound barrier in terms of ratings.