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Broadcast TV Impeachment: American Crime Story - FX (1 Viewer)

Ken H

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A 10 episode third season of the FX series American Crime Story, Impeachment, chronicles the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal, and is based on the book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, by Jeffrey Toobin. It premiered on September 7, 2021.

Originally, Toobin was significantly more involved with the series, as he was with the first ACS season, The People vs. OJ Simpson. But after his notorious Zoom masturbation incident last year, producers sidelined him and with extensive discussions, got Monica Lewinsky directly involved. She ended up with co-producer credit, got a development deal, and had input on sets, scripts, and more. Not surprisingly, Executive Producer / Director Ryan Murphy had a hard time getting Lewinsky involved. He ended up promising her not to do the series unless she participated, and ultimately she did.

The series focuses primarily on the women involved in the scandal, including Lewinsky, her friend and betrayer Linda Tripp, and Paula Jones, who claimed Clinton had her brought to a hotel room and exposed himself.

Airing Tuesdays at 10pm, the first episode begins with Lewinsky on her way to meet Tripp in a shopping mall, and ends up being picked up by FBI agents who take her to a hotel to be questioned by Justice Department investigators working for Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. At age 24, Lewinsky is totally blindsided by all this, while Tripp is telling her it's no big deal.....

The cast includes Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson as the primary antagonist Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones. Edie Falco, of The Sopranos fame, is also in the series as Hillary Clinton, but early reviews say she has insignificant screen time.

Soon into the episode, it becomes clear a major part of the production is the heavy use of cosmetic prosthetics. Looking at Paulson portraying Tripp, it's hard to recognize her as the actress who played Marsha Clark in the first American Crime Story, The People vs. OJ Simpson. And the same goes for Clive Owen as President Bill Clinton; unrecognizable.

The first episode premiered to 916,000 viewers, significantly less than the first two American Crime Stories, The People vs. OJ Simpson (5.1 million), and The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2.2 million).

Initial response has been decent, with 69% approval at Rotten Tomatoes, while Metacritic gave it a 61 out 100.

Based on the first episode, which I think was well done, I plan on watching further.
 
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TravisR

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My problem with this season is that it's a wig and costume show. "Look at the funny big hair!" "Look at the shoulder pads!" "Look at Sarah Paulson's fake teeth!" It's also not helping that Paulson is the only actor that's kind of making me think that they're the person they're portraying. While that is a very tough thing to do and the historical people are extremely well-known, I think the cast of The People Vs. O.J. Simpson managed to do it quite well and a number of those people are nearly as famous as many folks portrayed in this.
 

Ken H

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The second episode examines how Tripp gained Lewinsky's confidence, Lewinsky told Tripp that she loved the President and, Tripp got her to admit she was having an affair with the President.

When Lewinsky was transferred from the White House to the Pentagon, for the purpose of getting her out of the way for the second term election, she only heard from Clinton very infrequently and didn't see him at all for an extended period. And then, she learned the plan for her to return to the White House after the election was not going to happen. She was depressed, became convinced Clinton had pulled the plug on the relationship, and she packed and was ready to leave town for awhile. Tripp buttered up Lewinsky by complementing her great memory, and got her to go over all of the times she talked to and saw Clinton. She created an Excel spreadsheet that showed a definite pattern of Clinton's activity, which Tripp interpreted to show the relationship wasn't over and that Clinton was still interested in her and would contact her again. This turned out to be true, as shortly after Clinton was reelected, he resumed seeing her. Normally I wouldn't have believed this part, but due to Lewinsky being directly involved in the production, I have to believe it. It illustrated how devious Linda Tripp was in her misguided desire to somehow get back at both the Clintons.

It also dealt with how Paula Jones pursued her legal case against Clinton. She got involved with Susan Carpenter-McMillan, who called herself the President and Founder of the Women's Coalition. Carpenter-McMillan used Jones to advance her own celebrity and causes, but she did gain public interest for Jones, who eventually got an $850,000 settlement from Clinton.

An interesting note is about the dress Annaleigh Ashford, the actress portraying Jones, wore at Jones's CPAP press conference. It was the actual dress Jones wore. The production team found it on eBay, and purchased it for the scene. The CPAP Conference is where Jones first went public with her accusation that while Governor of Arkansas, Clinton had his state police escorts bring her to a hotel room, exposed himself, and asked her to perform oral sex on him. Jones said at the time all she wanted was from Clinton was an apology.

I must admit the scenes between Lewinsky and Tripp, and Lewinsky and Clinton, all ring very, very true. Lewinsky's involvement makes this American Crime Story worthwhile for me.

It's well known that Clinton was a womanizer, but this story is told from the perspective that Clinton actually cared for Lewinsky, which I believe.

And again, the use of cosmetics, wigs, and prosthetics is over the top. It's more of a distraction than anything else.
 

Tommy R

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I personally don’t see much wrong with the prosthetics and wigs. I’ve seen people who have JUST those types of styles to this day.
 

Reggie W

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I once ended up spending a night drinking with a bunch of Bill Clinton's Arkansas buddies. It was pretty hilarious. I saw some clips of this show but really, could not bring myself to watch it. Basically, this whole event involved a lot of crap behavior by a lot of lousy people and I don't really want to relive it, ha. I thought Clive Owen looked pretty good as Bill Clinton.
 

Tommy R

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The scene with him remembering the name “Lewinsky” reminds me of a wonderful story John Mulaney told about a time he meet Bill Clinton in the same ballroom of the Chicago Hilton that was used in the movie The Fugitive.

You see, Richard Kimball discovered that his friend actually tried to have him killed because he found out they had been switching the samples, so that Devlin McGregor could give us Provasic…
 

TravisR

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I personally don’t see much wrong with the prosthetics and wigs. I’ve seen people who have JUST those types of styles to this day.
They exist(ed) but the show is playing up the wigs and costumes up too much for me. I was never distracted by the costumes or hair in previous seasons of this series and they're all set in the 90's. In another Ryan Murphy show like American Horror Story: 1984, I can understand really leaning into the 1980's fashions because that show frequently goes for the comedy but American Crime Story is a straight drama so I think they should have dialed back the wigs, fake teeth, prosthetic makeup, and costumes. To be clear, I don't think any of the blame lays with the actors. Owen is a damn good actor and Paulson & Falco are great actors.

Credit where credit is due, there's a scene in the second episode where Clinton laughed at a joke that Lewinsky made and Owen gave this hoarse brief laugh that seemed 100% like Clinton to me.
 

Tommy R

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Yeah, Owen is amazing! I’ve been a big fan of his for years. I’m looking forward to Falco having more screen time as the season progresses.
 

Ken H

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Episode three deals with Clinton realizing the Paula Jones case is going to be much more trouble than he expected. A Newsweek reporter is trying to put the pieces together of how Clinton abuses his power, and is contacted by Kathleen Willey who tells him she was sexually harassed in The White House by Clinton, and that Linda Tripp can verify the story. Tripp ends up saying Willey liked what happened and was excited, as opposed to Willey's story of being the target of Clinton's unwanted attentions.

It also looks at the Drudge Report's nascent beginnings, and how dumpster diving initially helped Drudge develop the tabloid website phenomenon, and how he goes on breaking the Willey story with no real proof, while the Newsweek reporter is struggling to find someone, anyone to go on the record about unethical Clinton's activities.

A consistent in the story, is that Linda Tripp was one of the most unlikable persons you are ever likely to run into. She always twisted everything to inflate her own deluded value. Tripp berates pretty much everyone around her, except Lewinsky, who she fawns over and plays on the much younger girl's emotions to find any way to get back at the Clinton's.

Clinton decides to end the relationship with Lewinsky, because "it's not right" and wants to be just friends with her. Lewinsky is crushed and with Tripp's tutelage writes a nasty-gram to Clinton that infuriates him. She is basically threatening him unless he brings her back to the White House, he'll regret it. They reach a peace of sorts, but Lewinsky tells him, by the way, the Newsweek reporter called her friend at work (Tripp) and was asking about Willey. Clinton gets word to Lewinsky that he wants to see her, and asks her if her friend at work is Linda Tripp. Looking surprised, Lewinsky says yes. Clinton says do you trust her. Lewinsky says yes. Clinton says have you told her about us, and Lewinsky lies and says no. Clinton tells her to have Tripp call the White House.

The Newsweek reporter finally gets Tripp to go on the record about the Willey incident, but she insists she has a much bigger story about a White House intern that is having an affair with the President.
 

SamT

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3x04 The Telephone Hour

Amazing episode. The best episode of this season so far. It was so complex that it even made me feel for Linda Tripp.
 

TravisR

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It took a few episodes but I'm getting more into this and am more forgiving of the wigs and costumes.

...it even made me feel for Linda Tripp.
For me, there's nothing that can do that :laugh: but they have made her more human than she ever came off in the news or on Saturday Night Live. I think it was understood from the writing and performance but they even spelled it out In last week's episode by basically saying that she was just a loser who loves drama and an unimportant person that so badly wanted to be important. That desire made her snitch on other people's personal lives.
 

SamT

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I mean it's not hard, imagine someone calling you all the time and be that obsessive, you go nuts!

I heard that Lewinsky is the producer? How is that possible, it's not showing her in a very favorable way. You want to yell, get over it. Move forward. She looks like the person who needs the most help in this, to throw away the obsession and move forward.
 

TravisR

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I mean it's not hard, imagine someone calling you all the time and be that obsessive, you go nuts!

I heard that Lewinsky is the producer? How is that possible, it's not showing her in a very favorable way. You want to yell, get over it. Move forward. She looks like the person who needs the most help in this, to throw away the obsession and move forward.
Lewinsky is basically a kid who is in love with the wrong man and she had some really ugly stuff happen in her past that likely messed her up so I can see why she's acting nuts over Clinton. That being said, I wouldn't want to get those phone calls either. :laugh:
 

JohnMor

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3x04 The Telephone Hour

Amazing episode. The best episode of this season so far. It was so complex that it even made me feel for Linda Tripp.

Great ep. i even started to feel a bit bad for Tripp, given how one sided the friendship seemed to be. All Monica, all the time. But, of course, that’s tempered by knowing what she did.

I, too, was impressed that Lewinsky was depicted as almost borderline unstable when it came to the relationship with Clinton. When I read she was going to be a producer I worried it would be a deified depiction. Glad to see that isn’t the case. I had to keep reminding myself how young she was. It still boggles my mind that she jabbered to someone she hardly knew about something so monumental, let alone kept the blue dress and showed it to people.

So far they really seem to treating everybody fairly, i.e. warts and all, which is so much more interesting than white hats vs. black hats, even though some people obviously engaged in much, much worse behavior than others, i.e the Big Creep, Linda Tripp and the power brokers who manipulated and used Paula Jones.
 
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Ken H

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Hard to disagree with what others have already said about episode 4.

Yes, episode 4 was the best so far; even the title, "The Telephone Hour" was a great call. Pun intended. Not sure if others here remember, but there was a radio and then TV program on NBC from 1940 to 1968, called "The Bell Telephone Hour". It featured classical and Broadway music, with featured guest stars.

Yes, the complexity of the situation was shown in excruciating detail.

Yes, it was almost enough to make one feel sorry for Linda Tripp. Almost. Again, she was one of the most unlikable people I can ever remember knowing of. Can you imagine how she would be reacting now, if she was still alive? Yikes. I wonder if that played a part in the series being made, her being dead?

Yes, Monica Lewinsky was a real basket case. But now at least we have insight into why. She had already been taken advantage of in previous relationships with older men, and was a prime candidate for the attention of Clinton.

Yes, Clinton was a real piece of work. And he gets worse.

The fact Lewinsky is one of the producers, and is credited by producer/director Ryan Murphy as being critical in the making of the series, all makes it so believable for me. The dialog between Lewinsky and anyone she speaks with tells the story.

Very enjoyable to watch. Recommended.
 

Ken H

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Episode 5 - Do you hear what I hear?

In a surprise opening scene, the future CNN anchor Jake Tapper sees Monica in a bar, and hits on her. Tapper buys her dinner, but the relationship goes no further. It really happened, and Tapper interviewed Monica on CNN on earlier in the day.

The story plays out as Tripp tells her literary agent Lucianne Goldberg that Monica wants to get the dress cleaned, and Goldberg tells Tripp to make sure she doesn't, it will prove what's on the tapes.

Tripp gets subpoenaed, tells Monica, and says she will not perjure herself. Monica is trying to figure out who could have fed the info to the Jones attorneys, and this part makes her look really bad; there was no one else who knew, except her mother. You'd think she would have figured it out.

Paula Jones is deposed by Bill Bennett, Clinton's attorney, and Jones's legal team is looking for more witnesses to support Jones's story.

Monica is served her subpoena, and tells Tripp she'll simply deny everything, and the whole problem will go away. Tripp says she is going to talk to her lawyer, who tells her she broke the law when she recorded her conversations with Monica, and could go to jail. Tripp continues deluding herself about her importance, but now she is actually the key witness and has the tapes that proves Monica lied.

Tripp is told by Goldberg to contact Kenneth Starr's office, and after meeting, an FBI agent says thank God we have tapes, because a jury would fucking hate that woman....

Tripp tells the investigators she's meeting Monica and is going to tape her at a public restaurant in VA, where taping is legal, and the FBI says no way, we'll do it. At the meeting Monica admits she lied in her deposition. and the FBI gets it all on tape. Monica begs Tripp to not say anything about her relationship with Clinton, and Tripp says she needs to sleep on it. Again, Monica misses what's happening to her because she trusts Tripp. Unknowingly, she has sealed her and Clinton's fate.

It's amazing that Goldberg and Tripp somehow found each other. They make the perfect pair.
 

Tommy R

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I’m almost certain I remember an SNL sketch of that restaurant scene from back in the day.

And is it just me, or did Lewinsky even say things in the right way that incriminated her to perjury. I have no idea how the law works, so maybe she said enough. But she wasn’t talking “legalese” in most of what she said to Tripp.
 

Ken H

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And is it just me, or did Lewinsky even say things in the right way that incriminated her to perjury. I have no idea how the law works, so maybe she said enough.
She certainly did. But remember, they weren't after her, she was just the instrument to get Clinton.

The Office of Independent Counsel wanted Tripp to get Monica to say 'she wanted Tripp to lie', (like Monica did, and like Clinton did in the Paula Jones lawsuit) when asked about her knowledge of Monica and Clinton's relationship. The OIC also wanted Tripp to get Monica to say she had already lied in her deposition, which she did.

Once she admitted those things, it's admission of perjury to the Office of Independent Counsel, which allowed them to leverage her to prove Clinton did the same thing.

Before and during Clinton's presidency, it was well known inside his inner circle, The White House, and by most Washington DC insiders that Clinton had a long history of being a womanizer, and at the same time tried to appear the dedicated Christian husband and family man. It was believed by the OIC if Clinton was asked, he would lie about what he did with Monica. And he did. And that was that.
 
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TravisR

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Episode 5 - Do you hear what I hear?

In a surprise opening scene, the future CNN anchor Jake Tapper sees Monica in a bar, and hits on her. Tapper buys her dinner, but the relationship goes no further. It really happened, and Tapper interviewed Monica on CNN on earlier in the day.
I saw that scene and thought it had to be real in that truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of way.

This show has pulled me in but I wish they didn't waste time on referencing modern-day people like Brett Kavanaugh, George Conway, or that hideous ghoul Ann Coulter (the actor playing her absolutely nails the voice). I assume they were actually involved but if Kavanaugh hadn't gotten on the Supreme Court, there's no chance that they would have bothered to mention his name in this episode so the references come off as awkward to me.
 

Tommy R

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She certainly did. But remember, they weren't after her, she was just the instrument to get Clinton.

The Office of Independent Counsel wanted Tripp to get Monica to say 'she wanted Tripp to lie', (like Monica did, and like Clinton did in the Paula Jones lawsuit) when asked about her knowledge of Monica and Clinton's relationship. The OIC also wanted Tripp to get Monica to say she had already lied in her deposition, which she did.
Maybe I need to watch the scene again, but it seemed to me that she didn’t actually say any of this in the conversation with Tripp. Most of her responses seemed to be simply NOT correcting Tripp when Tripp was so blatantly trying to get her to say things independently. I’m not saying that there WAS anything for her to correct as that WAS clearly Monica’s intent, but it seemed to me she worded her language guardedly enough that she could deny anything later. Again, maybe I’m wrong about how such things need to be worded legally on a federally recorded tape, and I have no idea how the real-life convo went down, but in particular I found it strange when all the feds got so excited when Monica said “I’ve already mailed it in.” This doesn’t confirm anything about what she put on the affidavit from Monica’s mouth.

I’m not trying to make a big thing out of this, it’s just a weird outlook I have on it that I think stems from a pet-peeve of mine in life, when people do not spell things out black and white with language, and I’ve been in annoying situations at workplaces when people get annoyed at ME for when I insist on them telling me exactly what it is they want from me. But then these same people get annoyed with ME when I “fill in the blanks” so to speak and use my judgement and initiative to get the job done, but then because I didn’t do a small detail, something that they didn’t at all specify, and they say “We’ll, you should have asked!” This is something that has mentally driven me batty over, and I just can’t help but notice how incomplete people use language a lot of the time.
 

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