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American Crime Story: Monica Lewinsky’s new television series is a masterclass in reclaiming your own narrative

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Kayleigh Dray
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American Crime Story: Monica Lewinsky’s new television series is a masterclass in reclaiming your own narrative

The American activist has joined forces with Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein and Ryan Murphy to explore the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Monica Lewinsky’s name has been synonymous with scandal since the mid-90s, when then-President Bill Clinton admitted to what he termed an “inappropriate relationship” with the former White House intern.

As a result, impeachment proceedings were launched against Clinton, but he survived 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.

Now, though, the activist is reclaiming “my own narrative”. And she’s doing it with the help of the team who brought us the award-winning TV shows American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

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As 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. And, brilliantly, Lewinsky has now confirmed that she has signed up 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.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05: Monica Lewinsky speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women In Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter )
Monica Lewinsky speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women In Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter )

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.”

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.”

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Lewinsky will be portrayed by Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein in the upcoming drama, while Sarah Paulson will play Linda Tripp, the US department of defence civil servant who recorded secret conversations between herself and Lewinsky following the affair.

Annaleigh Ashford, meanwhile, has been cast as Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who sued Clinton for sexual harassment.

Beanie Feldstein in October 2017 (Rex Features)
Beanie Feldstein in October 2017 (Rex Features)

Addressing the upcoming series, FX chairman John Landgraf said: “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.”

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Impeachment: American Crime Story will premiere on 27 September 2020 – just in time for the next presidential election.

Images: Getty/Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

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.

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