A political scandal that rocked the world and, now, a masterclass in reclaiming your narrative.
Impeachment: American Crime Story, the first episode of which premiered on BBC Two on 19 October, is a 10-part series from the team who brought us the award-winning TV shows The People vs OJ Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
Monica Lewinsky’s name has been synonymous with salaciousness since the mid-90s, when then-President Bill Clinton admitted to what he called an “inappropriate relationship” with the former White House intern.
As a result, impeachment proceedings were launched against Clinton, but he survived and thrived and remained a popular president until 2001, with his legacy still praised today.
Lewinsky, however, saw her name dragged through the mud. Despite not being the only person in the affair, she was made a scapegoat for what happened, slut-shamed in the tabloids, and humiliated on a global scale.
What is the plot of Impeachment: American Crime Story?
As previously confirmed by Vanity Fair, Emmy-winning producer Ryan Murphy is adapting Jeffrey Toobin’s 2000 book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down A President into a new star-studded TV series.
“Every side has a story,” promises the show’s tagline.
And here, we’re told the story of the events that led to the first impeachment of a U.S. President in over a century by the women right at the heart of it: Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and Paula Jones.
Is there a trailer for Impeachment: American Crime Story?
The full trailer for the series arrived in August and, trust us, it’ll make the hairs on your arms stand on end.
Watch it for yourself below:
Who stars in Impeachment: American Crime Story?
Lewinsky is portrayed by Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein in the drama, while the outrageously talented Sarah Paulson plays Linda Tripp, the US department of defence civil servant who recorded secret conversations between herself and Lewinsky following the affair.
Annaleigh Ashford, meanwhile, was cast as Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who sued Clinton for sexual harassment. Clive Owen takes on the role of Clinton, while Edie Falco plays Hillary Clinton.
Throughout the series, you can also expect to see Taran Killam as Steve Jones, Billy Eichner as Matt Drudge, Margo Martindale as Lucianne Goldberg, and Anthony Green as former vice president Al Gore.
How is Monica Lewinsky involved in the making of Impeachment: American Crime Story?
Lewinsky was very much making sure her voice was heard in this project, and signed up early on to serve as a producer on Impeachment: American Crime Story.
“I was hesitant, and truthfully more than a little scared to sign on,” she said in an official statement. “But after a lengthy dinner meeting with Ryan, I came to understand even more clearly how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalised in all of his brilliant work.”
Lewinsky continued: “People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.
“I’m so grateful for the growth we’ve made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation.”
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The activist finished by noting: “This isn’t just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.”
Murphy, for his part, had wanted to tell this story for years, but waited until he could secure Lewinsky’s involvement.
“Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do,” he is said to have told her at a party in 2018. “If you want to produce it with me, I would love that, but you should be the producer, and you should make all the goddamn money.”
What are people saying about Impeachment: American Crime Story?
Following the first episode, which premiered last night, fans on social media have already commented that they’re “hooked” on the 10-part series, with one Twitter user adding that “Sarah Paulson is the most compelling actor working today.”
“Even with the narrative in her hand, @MonicaLewinsky stayed true to herself. American Crime Story: Impeachment, is incredibly hard to watch because you can clearly see how terrifying it must have been for her to go through something like this. I am truly thankful for her parents,” wrote another.
The Guardian also called it “a salacious sensation,” alongside it’s four star review.
Previously, FX chairman John Landgraf addressed the series, saying: “FX’s American Crime Story franchise has become a cultural touchstone, providing greater context for stories that deserve greater understanding like the O.J. Simpson trial and saga, and Andrew Cunanan’s tragic crime spree which concluded with the assassination of Gianni Versace.
“This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining,” he went on.
“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.”
What is the release date for Impeachment: American Crime Story?
Impeachment: American Crime Story started on BBC Two at 9.15pm on Tuesday 19 October and continues next Tuesday 26 October.
Images: BBC/Tina Thorpe/FX, Getty/Rex Features
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.