The showrunner of American Crime Story: Impeachment explains why the series won’t include any intimate scenes between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Focusing in its first two installments on the 1994 trial of O.J. Simpson and the murder of Gianni Versace, respectively, the latest season of American Crime Story is set to examine the affair that President Clinton (Clive Owen) had with the 22-year-old Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein). It will also look at that national frenzy that followed, the relentless media coverage, and what had been the first impeachment proceedings in more than a century.
With its FX premiere set for September 7th, audiences have been getting previews of what to expect when the long-awaited anthology returns. Trailers have offered glimpses of Owen’s take on Bill Clinton’s accent, in addition to Feldstein’s turn as Lewinsky in the lead role. Impeachment will also feature other familiar faces, including Sarah Paulson, Edie Falco, Cobie Smulders, and several others. Each of their characters, from Paulson’s Linda Tripp to Falco’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton, will help to inform the scandal which defined a large stretch of Clinton’s presidency. Still, according to head writer and showrunner Sarah Burgess, Impeachment will not be highlighting the intimacy that occurred between Clinton and Lewinsky.
During a virtual panel for the Television Critics Association’s press tour, Burgess explained why she favored minimizing any depictions of sexuality between the show’s central pair. Using the example of Lewinsky’s much-discussed blue dress, which was stained with Clinton’s semen, the showrunner argued that most audiences would already be familiar with those sort of graphic details. Burgess also made clear that she wanted to take a different approach to the story. You can read her quote, from The Wrap, below.
“You mentioned the blue dress, like, everyone knows precisely the mechanics of that and what that is. And I think a lot of my thinking has always been to sort of put us in Monica’s shoes through Beanie, this extremely young person who shows up in D.C. with her whole life ahead of her. And to feel like, who the human being was around that, what the feelings were around that and her relationship with Bill, it never felt like the move to me. And I don’t remember … any intensive discussions about doing it another way.”
It’s noted that, while the anthology will see an on-screen kiss between Clinton and Lewinsky, most of the sexual specifics will be mentioned in conversations. It’s a careful and considerate way of tackling the sensitive subject, as any overly intimate scene inevitably runs the risk of glamorizing the affair and the power imbalance that occurred within it. Fans of teen dramas know all too well how the genre has been criticized for presenting sexually charged scenes between teachers and characters that are often underage. It’s certainly true that Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky was different. But, given that Lewinsky herself consulted on Impeachment, it’s more than understandable that the anthology aims to be more mindful with what it depicts. This is doubly true, considering how Lewinsky was treated as a punchline in the media as a result of the affair. After so many jokes at her expense, it’s hard to fault her for wanting to put forth her side of the story.
The news likewise acts as a reminder of how American Crime Story differs from other Ryan Murphy franchises. Despite the fact that Murphy is an executive producer on the anthology, having even directed some of its episodes, it lacks the ostentatious and campy bent of his other shows like American Horror Story and Ratched. If anything, the past two seasons focused on O.J. Simpson and Versace were praised for being relatively grounded and empathetic. It seems as though Impeachment will continue the trend.
Source: The Wrap