‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’: Monica Lewinsky’s Greatest Achievement Is ‘Survival — and That My Humor and Ability to Open My Heart Are Still Intact’

There’s been a pattern of movies and television shows dredging up noteworthy stories of the recent past. While historical films that look into the events that have helped shape our current political and economic landscape are certainly important, many of these takes are coming out while the people involved are still very much alive and in the public eye. This provides a fascinating phenomenon where we can have layered narratives that shape our understanding of events: the news as we remember it at the time, the more recent films and shows and their interpretation of events, and the actual accounts of the individuals themselves as they react. For Monica Lewinsky, the contemporary version of her story can only be an improvement on the media-frenzied impeachment of Bill Clinton that has defined her public life. The upcoming TV series Impeachment: American Crime Story will definitely bring more attention to the past scandal involving Monica Lewinsky.

Monica Lewinsky was torn apart by the media

Monica Lewinsky attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Monica Lewinsky attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. | Toni Anne Barson/WireImage/Getty Images

Monica Lewinsky was not necessarily on a path that would make her a household name when she took the position as a White House intern in June 1995. Of course, we now know that it would be just two years later when a scandal that ripped apart the country put her name everywhere — and this was before the days of round-the-clock online coverage. As TIME reports, then-21-year-old Lewinsky had sexual encounters with President Bill Clinton. 

Lewinsky had confided in and become friends with Linda Tripp, who had secretly been recording her conversations about the interactions. The news initially broke in Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report and was quickly picked up by more mainstream (and reputable) outlets. Soon, the scandal had so fully embroiled Clinton that there were calls for his immediate resignation. When he refused, impeachment proceedings began, ensuring that the coverage (and late night jokes) about Lewinsky would stick around for a long time. 

Much like President Donald Trump’s more recent impeachment, the proceedings passed in the House of Representatives before an acquittal in the Senate left President Clinton in office. 

Monica Lewinsky has opened up about her recent life

Of course, the public narrative surrounding sexual misconduct — especially by men in positions of political power — has shifted greatly since 1997. This more nuanced discussion of power dynamics has provided Lewinsky with the opportunity to speak about her experience to a more sympathetic and attentive public. 

Although Lewinsky wasn’t directly involved with the upcoming F/X series Impeachment: American Crime Story, she did revisit the scandal in the 2018 A&E documentary series, The Clinton Affair. She has since shared that she was reluctant to participate in the A&E series, but that she’s glad she did because it forced her “to acknowledge to myself past behavior that I still regret and feel ashamed of.” 

Ahead of the release of Impeachment: American Crime Story, Lewinsky spoke with Vanity Fair to share some details about her own views of her life. When asked about her greatest achievements, Lewinsky told the publication: “Survival — and that my humor and ability to open my heart are still intact.”

‘Impeachment: American Crime Story,’ puts the spotlight on Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton impeachment

Now Lewinsky’s story is going to be shared in a different light. The F/X series American Crime Story has chosen the Clinton impeachment as the topic of its third season. In Season 1, it explored the O.J. Simpson trial. Season 2 tackled the assassination of Gianni Versace. 

The flashy series brings these tales to life with in-depth coverage built out of meticulous research and plenty of interviews with the actual participants in the events. Lewinsky will be portrayed by Beanie Feldstein, and Hillary Clinton will be played by Edie Falco. As for the real center of the scandal, Clive Owen will appear as Bill Clinton. 

RELATED: Barbara Walters’ 2-Hour Interview with Monica Lewinsky Made Broadcasting History