Why There’s Already Backlash Against ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’

Ryan Murphy’s knack for dramatic storytelling will be on display once again with the third season of American Crime Story. The series has already covered the O.J. Simpson trial and the murder of Gianni Versace in its first two seasons, and now it’s tackling another high-profile case: Bill Clinton’s impeachment. It’s set to air in September 2020, and now a host of people—including journalists and political experts—are saying it’s a bad idea.

President Bill Clinton
President Clinton, 1998 in Washington D.C. | Getty Images/David Hume Kennerly

Monica Lewinsky has signed on as a producer

Of course, the story can’t be told without mentioning the Monica Lewinsky intern scandal, and she will be working behind the scenes with Murphy and Nina Jacobson as a producer. E! News reports that Murphy was first toying with the idea in 2017 but abandoned it until now, since he finally got Lewinsky on board. She was not interested in doing it before.

The two met and although she was reluctant at first, she was convinced to work with Murphy and the rest of team, seeing it as an opportunity to control her narrative. But the story will not only focus on the affair, but the events surrounding former president Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.

Why people are up in arms

It’s all about timing. The series was announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour by FX boss John Landgraf. According to Deadline, Landgraf was flooded with questions about why the series is dropping during the presidential election season next year. It’s set to premiere on September 27th, just weeks before voters hit the polls.

“People are going to be very interested in this around the presidential election and it is going to be a great show. I don’t believe it’s going to determine who the next president of the United States is going to be.”

Landgraf spoke about the freedom of artistic expression and free speech, and when pressed about the idea that the show might affect the election, he said, “I think that’s a little hysterical, from my standpoint.”

The Hollywood Reporter noted that critics like New York Magazine’s Mark Harris feel that airing the show next September—with its Clinton-heavy theme—will be a detriment to the political system and could tip the odds against one or more parties.

What ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ will be about

Actress Beanie Feldstein is set to play the role of Lewinsky, who was Bill Clinton’s White House intern/mistress from 1995 to 1997. Sarah Paulson, who’s also signed on as a producer, will play Linda Tripp in the series, Lewinsky’s confidante. During the height of the scandal, it was revealed that Tripp secretly recorded Lewinsky telling the details of the affair with Clinton.

Annaleigh Ashford will appear as Paula Jones, the woman who sued Clinton in 1994 for sexual harassment. According to Variety, Landgraf said this latest installment of American Crime Story will focus on the women:

“Impeachment: American Crime Story’ will likewise explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton Presidency.”

Parts of the script will be based on the book by Jeffrey Toobin, A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Production is due to begin next February.