In the category of real-life characters from the 1990s who suddenly became famous due to strange and improbable circumstances, the brilliant Sarah Paulson is now two for two.
Paulson won an Emmy for her portrayal of the stubbornly determined but surpassed prosecution lawyer Marcia Clark in the 2016 limited series “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story”.
She delivers an even more impressive disappearance act as she becomes the intriguing and unpopular whistleblower Linda Tripp in “Impeachment: America Crime Story” (premiering Tuesday), which isn’t really about the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, but a timeline of the bizarre and at times pathetically comical events that led to Clinton’s impeachment, told from the perspective of Tripp and his former colleague and friend Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein).
Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President”, the final chapter in Ryan Murphy’s anthology series “American Crime Story” on FX Networks is a movie. sinister, sparkling, melodramatic and addicting political observable black thriller and character study.
More than a dozen familiar faces represent a variety of actors in the sordid story of a horndog and an allegedly predatory governor and then president who could not resist his basic urges even when he was in. the oval office; the young intern-turned-employee who had an affair with the president (and is a producer of this series), and the vast array of colorful and in many cases blindly ambitious individuals who were obsessed with eliminating Clinton no matter what. what was needed.
However, when I say “familiar faces” some of these faces are buried under so many prostheses that they are virtually unrecognizable. Clive Owen as Bill Clinton sounded more like Bill Maher to me, but that didn’t preclude his actually oily performance as the arguably great president who was also an unmistakably great chief maker.
“Impeachment” features several storylines that take place in the 1990s – storylines that would eventually intersect to create one of the biggest, most sensational, and embarrassing scandals in American history.
Some of the key events setting up the story:
- In 1996, junior employee Monica Lewinsky was transferred from a glamorous post in the West Wing to a dead-end gig at the Pentagon, where she befriended disgruntled Linda Tripp, who kept denouncing and calling back. to the people his vast government. experience, telling everyone that she was the last person to see Vince Foster alive – and is an outcast in the workplace, alienating everyone with her brash, combative, and narcissistic demeanor.
- In 1994, working-class Californian mother Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford in a beautiful nuanced performance) was pushed by her capricious and aspiring actor husband Steve (Taran Killam) to take legal action against Clinton after a magazine published an article on Clinton’s hotel room. advance to Jones when he was governor of Arkansas.
- In 1998, Lewinsky met Tripp at the food court in the Pentagon City mall – but that’s a setup, and Lewinsky found himself in a hotel room full of intimidating FBI agents telling him she faced a long prison sentence if she doesn’t tell all about her relationship with Clinton.
And there is so much going on between and around these events.
The great Margo Martindale is a hoot as literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, who tells Tripp to tape her phone conversations with Lewinsky to get the right dirt.
Cobie Smulders highlights the bizarre and mischievous speech patterns of Ann Coulter, who works with Internet pioneer and self-parodying sleuth Matt Drudge (Billy Eichner) to divulge salacious allegations about Clinton and Lewinsky.
Mira Sorvino as Monica’s Mother, Blair Underwood as Vernon Jordan, Rae Dawn Chong as Betty Currie, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Reaser as Kathleen Willey – c ‘is an almost endless list of top actors who come here and there and perform flawlessly as the story gets crazier.
Even for those of us who remember the 1990s and recognize the names of all the players, the hopping timeline and abundance of characters in “Impeachment” makes the viewing experience confusing at times. This is one of those series where we could have used an ID graphic every time a new character is introduced, like: “Women’s Coalition Founder, Susan Carpenter McMillan” or “The Lawyer of the White House Bernie Nussbaum ”.
Feldstein delivers an empathetic and complex performance as Lewinsky – a young woman who was responsible for her actions but in no way deserved to be so vilified by the FBI, the media, and the public.
And Paulson is just beautiful as Tripp, who was so blinded by her need for attention and her thirst for revenge for actual slights and imagined that she failed to see that she was still his own worst enemy.