American Crime Story: Impeachment shows women beyond the political scandal

American Crime Story: Impeachment shows women beyond the political scandal

American Crime Story

The scandal that saw protagonists at the end of the nineties Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton is at the center of the new series by Ryan Murphy: as always a very glossy work that however contains interesting social and political observations in a very American context

All sexual harassment cases are the same but some are more equal than others. There is a scene, in the miniseries American Crime Story: Impeachment that starts today October 19 on the Fox satellite channel, which portrays the press conference in which for the first time Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) declares her intention to denounce the then president. Bill Clinton (we are in 1993) for making inappropriate advances to her. The reporters who have come are obviously eager for details, but above all they ask questions like: “But why did you go to a hotel room with him? Did you think you were talking about state affairs? ". What is striking is above all how, decades before the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo that became a global social phenomenon, the mechanisms of the media pillory have always been the same but above all the power relations that in one way or another translate themselves are always identical. in sexual abuse. Clinton's Sexgate in the late 1990s was a kind of gymnasium that no one treasured.

Impeachment is the new series by Ryan Murphy which, faithful to its line for decades, adds yet another chapter in its glossy staging of the most gory moments of the stars and stripes public life. Jones's case is just one element in a rather complicated mosaic, but one that sees its core mainly in two other women: Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), obviously, whose name has become synonymous with a political and media case that in reality is much more complex and stratified, and Linda Tripp (an always phenomenal Sarah Paulson, here very transformed), secretary first of the White House and then of the Pentagon, even more central thanks to her determination and thirst for revenge that will lead her to reveal, in a well-known scandal memoir, all the murky around Bill Clinton's office (here interpreted with admirable mimicry by Clive Owen).

Many viewers will know by now: Murphy's style it is as compelling as it is sly, it blends a prestigious cast with ennobled soap opera atmospheres, acute and lashing social observations with an almost voyeuristic sounding of the intimate life of its characters. Knowing that the real Lewinsky was a consultant for the production, then, it is even easier to notice how her fictional counterpart is represented as a rampant and contradictory young woman, naive but also witty, unable to understand that the president wanted her as an easy lover in opposition. to her dispassionate love; on the other hand, Tripp is the "traitorous bitch", imprisoned by the bitterness of a life of solitude and Weight Watchers meals in front of the TV, which ends up causing a fuss just because they changed her office. The fact remains that the series convincingly focuses on female figures (there is also Edie Falco who plays Hilary Clinton), unsuspecting and almost completely powerless pawns in an all-male chessboard. And yet it is they who made history, one might say.

The ten episodes of this new anthological chapter are made to be watched with great passion, above all because they closely recall - even in the music - the golden times of House of Cards, with the difference that here it is clearly all true (more or less). Showrunner Sarah Burgess made a masterful adaptation of Jeffrey Toobin's 1999 book titled A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, and inevitably it all sounds extremely American: there are details, charges, topical cases that Italian viewers not so familiar with US history and politics could be particularly obscure (the suicide of Vince Foster, the Whitewater scandal, the flood of characters between right-wing alt-right and democratic activists, etc.), yet you can follow all the events as if we were in the most classic of political thrillers. The media system, in those years at the apex of the all news channel system and at the dawn of the internet, which played a fundamental role in the looting of a story like Lewinsky's is also particularly prominent.

Given its obvious naivety, American Crime Story: Impeachment may not have many didactic pretensions, yet it tells us a lot about how certain scandals are treated, on a political, social and media level, in the same way, at all latitudes of the planet and of history. Above all, it reminds us of how Monica Lewinsky was for a long time reduced to an abstract figure, a punchline of shrewd articles and jokes, instead of being remembered as a young intern who let herself be duped by a system (and a man) bigger than she. Not that the apologies are of any use, but this series at least allows us in a convincing and above all exciting way to put certain pieces back in order, to reconstruct a story that is very close in time but which we have conveniently removed. Perhaps because it did not make ends meet with a Manichean vision of the world, which we often divide between good and bad, forgetting instead of what is really made: of men and women.

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