The promotional campaign for FX’s forthcoming Impeachment: American Crime Story (9.7, ten episodes), which focuses on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and is co-produced by Lewinsky, is heating up.
I’ve tapped out two or three riffs on the series. All that’s left is to watch it and decide what’s what.
There’s never been much doubt about Clinton’s in-office behavior and character in the ’80s and ’90s. In his hormonal heyday he was a total hound. And I think we all understand that the series will almost certainly get out the wooden paddle and leave serious welts. Apart from telling a good story and possibly delivering strong performances, the basic idea or goal appears to be punitive.
If on the other hand the series appears to be dealing straight cards without an agenda, I’ll be among the first to stand up and say that.
Does Clinton deserve to be slapped around by a docudrama that seems to have been informed by a prosecutorial #MeToo perspective? Well, he certainly made his own bed during his Arkansas governorship (’79 to ’81, ’83 to ’92) and his two terms as U.S. President (’93 to ’01), and now this particular chicken (based on Jeffrey Toobin’s “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President“) has come home to roost.
A fair portrayal of this sordid saga would certainly own up to the fact that it usually takes two to tango in these situations, but I suspect (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that the series is going to contend that it takes one — a powerful manipulator with the ability to persuade less powerful persons to give him what he wants.
I’ve suspected from the get-go that the film is going to portray Lewinsky as a gullible and vulnerable innocent who was emotionally exploited and manipulated in this situation, when in fact she seems to have gone for it big-time because she knew (or certainly had reason to presume) she would get something out of the relationship.
In March 2019 Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair that she considered the Clinton affair to have been “a gross abuse of power”, adding that Clinton “was my boss…he was the most powerful man on the planet”.
Friendo in August 2019: “Clinton didn’t pray on some poor ignored chubby girl. Lewinsky flirted outrageously with him and he flirted back. He could not resist her because she was HIS type. Beanie Feldstein is not THAT type. This casting choice alone tells you this dramatization is going to be a one-sided story of a sexual predator, which is 100% wrong. She was in her early 20s and very, very willing.”
Friendo speaking today: “This strikes me as a complete shit show — a total post-2018 #MeToo snow job. At the end of the day Lewinsky flirted with, seduced and engaged in a love affair with a married man. She seduced him and admitted it.”
HE comment: We all understand the power dynamic between Clinton and Lewinsky, but how does that work in the theoretical case of the widowed Michael Douglas in The American President? Because he was depicted as a nice guy widower with principles, was Douglas’s chief executive less guilty of using the Presidency in order to score…?
Said it before: “22 year-olds are not babes in the woods or poor little lambs. My rule is that you’re on your own and expected to live and cope in the adult world when you hit 20 or your junior year in college. And certainly by age 21. Any older guy who makes a play for a sophomore or freshman or any woman in her late teens is definitely crossing an ethical line. But it all changes at 20 or 21, and certainly by age 22, or a year past graduation.”