“The Assassination of Monica Lewinsky”

My God, the place to start.

ACS Impeachment Episode 7, “The Assassination of Monica Lewinsky,” is primarily about simply that—the character assassination of the younger girl on the coronary heart of the entire community of Invoice Clinton scandals. It’s about the best way a hungry press, an overeager right-wing prosecutor, and a gleeful leisure business took a weak younger girl and tore her to shreds, hour after hour, day after day, for month after month. It’s additionally about how a president lied to nearly everybody he knew concerning the nature of his relationship with that girl. It’s additionally about how the buddy who uncovered and betrayed her was ridiculed in flip, almost as badly as Monica Lewinsky herself.

It’s troublesome to look at. It’s riveting to look at.

One of many throughlines for the episode is William Jefferson Clinton himself. It’s fascinating to see him contort himself primarily based on the duty at hand. When he’s testifying in a deposition for the Paula Jones lawsuit, he’s steely and self-confident in denying the allegations levied at him by Paula and Kathleen Willey, to the purpose that Paula herself runs out of the room crying, so horrified is she at his means to dissemble—at the least, that’s how she sees it.

However when the subject of Monica Lewinsky comes up, his demeanor shifts. He begins stuttering, umm-ing, repeating phrases as if rehearsed. It’s noteworthy that he reacts this fashion solely when discussing the Lewinsky scenario; you can be forgiven if you happen to thought this was the present’s approach of arguing that these had been the one allegations with tooth, if not for its portrayal of Paula as genuinely devastated when he denies sexually harassing her. It’s studious work on the present’s half, permitting it to stay agnostic as to the reality of the extra extreme prices towards Clinton, permitting the viewers to resolve for itself.

But as his affair with Monica morphs from a sideshow to the primary attraction, Clinton is depicted as digging himself deeper and deeper. He lies to his spouse, Hillary. He kinda-sorta-yeah-but-not-quite-but-actually pressures his secretary Betty Currie into mendacity on his behalf. He lies to all his shut advisors: his lawyer Bob Bennett, his senior advisor Sidney Blumenthal (David Lynch mainstay Patrick Fischler), his press secretary Mike McCurry (Scott Michael Morgan). The one particular person to whom he feels he can inform the reality is his disgraced pollster Dick Morris (Brent Sexton), who himself fell sufferer to a sexual-impropriety scandal. Watching Clinton say that he “didn’t have sexual relations with that girl, Miss Lewinsky” lacks none of its energy to shock even now, over twenty years since he first fed this bullshit to the general public.

As for Monica, what can she do? She merely holes up in her resort suite on the Watergate together with her mom because the nation’s newsmen and comedians flip her right into a punchline. From Jay Leno to David Letterman to Ted Koppel, nobody appears good right here. She’s mocked for her weight and her sexuality. Her earlier abusers are trotted out as pious victims of her acquisitiveness. The president himself lies about her, on digicam, in entrance of the whole nation. She’s diminished to a shell of herself, sobbing on her mattress.

And what’s Linda Tripp’s reward for her yeoman’s work in bringing the Lewinsky Affair to the nation’s consideration? A quick flurry of press consideration outdoors her entrance door, adopted by her transformation right into a nationwide laughing inventory, similar as her erstwhile buddy Monica.

In one of many episode’s most retrospectively brutal segments, we watch a Saturday Evening Dwell sketch during which Monica, performed by a smiling Molly Shannon, has her fateful wiretapped lunch date with Linda, performed by John Goodman in drag. Goodman, as beloved a Hollywood determine as could be, does nothing to disguise the truth that he’s a big man in girls’s clothes; he even makes his voice extra butch than traditional. That is how the world sees Linda: ridiculous, mannish, actually too massive for her britches.

It leads to what’s for me essentially the most heartwrenching a part of the episode, during which Linda recounts to her daughter Allison (Emma Malouf) her historical past of being picked on as a child. Her fellow highschool college students used to name her “Gus,” as in basketball participant Gus Johnson, “an infinite man.” Right here was Linda’s alternative to genuinely relate to Monica, who was additionally focused for social opprobrium over her measurement, as an alternative of exploiting her. For one transient shining second, Linda had a buddy who might relate to her, and he or she blew it. Worse, she blew it on function, to feed her personal self-aggrandizement. It’s the most important what-could-have-been second of the collection.

I feel it’s to the credit score of the episode’s writers (Flora Birnbaum, Daniel Pearle, and showrunner Sarah Burgess) and director (Michael Uppendahl) that each character save Monica is handled with the identical mix of sympathy and disgust. Linda Tripp is clearly a pitiable determine, introduced low by her personal ambition. Invoice Clinton is portrayed as a person whose grandiose and noble goals are undermined by his serial caddishness. Monica? She’s just a few poor child who acquired sucked into the wake left behind by highly effective males, from Clinton to the ever-so-pious Ken Starr (as contemptible an individual as exists within the present’s universe) to her high-school drama instructor. She’s been failed by each man in her life, as much as and together with her indefatigable lawyer Invoice Ginsburg, who tries and fails to safe an immunity deal for her. Wouldn’t you be left crying in your mattress, alone?

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Instances, and anyplace that will have him, actually. He and his household dwell on Lengthy Island.

Watch Impeachment Episode 7 on FX

https://decider.com/2021/10/19/impeachment-episode-7-recap-the-assassination-of-monica-lewinsky/ | “The Assassination of Monica Lewinsky”


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