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Impeachment: American Crime Story went from pop-culture event to grand disappointment

  • American Crime Story's third season, focusing on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, was the buzziest show of the fall and appeared "well on its way to TV juggernaut-dom," says Inkoo Kang. "Revisiting President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal from the point of view of the person arguably hurt most by it — Monica Lewinsky, who provided feedback on 'every scene in the series' — the FX drama was intended to be a conversation starter, an awards magnet, a ratings experiment and, above all else, a pop-culture event," says Kang. "It may yet become more than one of those things, but, at least on the morning after the finale, Impeachment just feels like a grand disappointment." Kang offers several theories on why Impeachment fizzled out, including that the show wasn't widely available to stream in a world where more and more people are abandoning cable TV. But the main problem with Impeachment, says Kang, was that it wasn't very good. "My tepid review of Impeachment was one of many that greeted head writer Sarah Burgess’s vision when the season premiered in early fall," says Kang. "Centered on a protagonist (Monica) defined by featureless innocence and a villain (Linda) by over-the-top grotesquerie, Impeachment offered up a quantity of characters in lieu of quality of characterization. Burgess’s thematically repetitive yet unnecessarily complicated scripts didn’t play to Feldstein’s strengths as an actor, while Paulson’s use of a fat suit garnered at least as much attention as her performance, which was further obscured behind wigs, glasses and prosthetics. Other reasons include there being no "crime" in Impeachment: American Crime Story, that Lewinsky already got to rewrite her story and, perhaps, viewers are sick of the Clintons after 30 years. "Hillary and especially Bill may be the only two figures indelibly linked to the ’90s that have evaded our nostalgia for that decade," says Kang. "We seem to know everything — or at least have made up our minds — about them at this point: their marriage, their ambitions, their compromises, their many missteps. Despite a late-in-the-season episode centered on POTUS and the first lady, “Impeachment” has nothing new to say about their storied coupling. Sure, ACS is about Monica and Linda — the women adjacent to, yet definitively not in power — but, like them, the show inevitably gets sucked into the vortex that is Clinton lore, and you’re not alone if you just wanna skip this particular memory lane."


    • Sarah Paulson responds to criticism that her Linda Tripp was too unlikable: “I think there’s a lot to dislike about her,” said Paulson during a DGA panel Monday night. “Personality, I think it’s challenging for people to sit with a person who is unhappy — or seems to be unhappy.” Rather than try and engender good will, “we were trying to honor the truth of what happened,” Paulson added. “And there is undeniably an irrefutable fact, which is that there was a real betrayal that happened.”
    • Impeachment producers wanted to make a show that "would infuriate you": Executive producer Brad Simpson tells EW that the Impeachment team was "hoping that it would infuriate you no matter what side of the political divide you were on, partially because you get to see how these women were chewed up by the system and spit out." He adds: "When you look at some of the things that we're willing to accept from a president, it really starts in the 1990s. We're able to set up this notion that, yes, there was this web set up to try to catch the president doing something wrong, and then present the overreach of prosecutors in the way they would casually destroy a young woman in pursuit of the president. But also in the ways that people took sides and people on the left excused his behavior because they didn't want to see him out of power. I think this is an origin story for where we are today." 
    • Beanie Feldstein and Sarah Paulson have become close to Monica Lewinsky following their Impeachment experience: "You are never going to get rid of me," said Feldstein at a DGA panel. Paulson -- who kept freaking out moderator Lewinsky during the panel out by saying "Monica" in her Linda Tripp voice -- added:  "I'll never do to you what she (Tripp) did to you. I can promise you that." In a lighter moment, Lewinsky said she had seen Booksmart three months before Ryan Murphy approached her about executive producing Impeachment and wanting to cast Feldstein as her former self. "I kept thinking Beanie reminds me of me in my late teens, something about her emotional truth that she brought to the moment," Lewinsky recalled. Lewinsky also asked Paulson about a Vanity Fair interview with Tripp's daughter, Allison, who said she wanted to "hug the sh*t" out of the actress for her portrayal of her late mom. "The article was meaningful to me," said Paulson. "I imagined deep down in some fantasy that I would get to meet Linda and have it be a pleasant experience." 
    • Why was Diet Coke so prevalent in Impeachment: American Crime Story?

    TOPICS: Impeachment: American Crime Story, FX, Beanie Feldstein, Bill Clinton, Brad Simpson, Hillary Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Burgess, Sarah Paulson