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FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story centers the women who were key figures in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. In telling that story, however, it also takes in the divided government of the era, the dawn of internet culture and a heavily competitive media landscape.
“I think this is an origin story for today,” executive producer Brad Simpson said Friday during a Television Critics Association panel for the anthology series. “It was the beginning of some of the hyper-partisanship and tribalism we see today.”
The limited series, which premieres Sept. 7, focuses on Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) and how they were simultaneously key figures in Clinton’s (Clive Owen) impeachment and often marginalized and ridiculed in the media narratives surrounding the story. Lewinsky is a producer on the show and gave notes on scripts for scenes involving Feldstein’s portrayal of her.
“We went through every page of Monica’s memoir,” writer and executive producer Sarah Burgess said of her collaboration with Lewinsky. “She added a couple of moments, and I talked a lot about it with her to make it as accurate as possible.”
Like the previous two seasons of American Crime Story — which are also set in the mid- and late 1990s — Impeachment takes a hard look at the media culture of the era. Burgess was a “pre-teen” when Clinton was impeached, she said, and revisiting the media and pop-culture reaction to the impeachment was eye-opening. “As someone who’s consuming all the late night jokes and inhaling all those Maureen Dowd pieces, I was shocked by some of the vitriol,” she said.
“It would be satisfying to say it’s entirely different today, but as an older millennial I don’t think I find myself having a ton of hostility for the boomer media of the late ’90s,” Burgess continued. “The misogyny inherent in making fun of [Lewinsky and Tripp] talking about Macy’s [in phone conversations Tripp recorded], I don’t think that’s changed much.”
FX also released a new trailer for Impeachment on Friday; watch it below.
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