American Crime Story: Impeachment (2021)

Though it’s the weakest ACS season, ~genre/tonally-confused, and mixed between a journalistic exposé on humanity in scandals, #MeToo dynamics on the world’s biggest stage, & chaos of tabloids, S3: Impeachment is ever-gripping, proficiently-acted melodrama on one of the most lurid and incomprehensible romances in history. 7.6/10.

Plot Synopsis: American Crime Story is an American anthology true crime television series developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who are also executive producers, alongside Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, Ryan Murphy, and Brad Simpson.

CLC’s Official Best ACSI Episodes: 1. The President Kissed Me, 2. The Asssasination Of Monica Lewinsky, 3. The Grand Jury, 4. The Wilderness, 6. Do You Hear What I Hear? 6. Exiles, 7. The Telephone Hour, 8. Man Handled, 9. Stand By Your Man, 10. Not To be Believed

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

One Of 21st Century TV’s Greatest Series

The Assassination Of G. Versace. The People V. O.J. Simpson. Emmy-Caliber Anthological Oeuvre Of Period-Piece Historical Drama Reaching The Definitive S3-Crucible Of TV

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The Assassination Of Gianni Versace. The Trial Of O.J. Simpson Vs. The World. American Crime Story is – quite simply – one of the best TV series of the 21st Century. Two seasons in, Ryan Murphy’s [the patriarch of the show, as well as its cousin: American (Horror) Story] Emmy-winning, meticulously-crafted oeuvre of period-piece historical drama on the biggest events of the last century entered a crucible we at CLC refer to as the trilogy paradox. Legions of shows – it’s almost an expectation at this point – are able to keep pushing out quality content for their first two years.. only to nosedive off a cliff as soon as S3E1 premieres: S3’s hitting the analogous shared-wall film trilogy-conclusions often do as soon as they’re deprived of the easy sequel-convention/guideline cheat-sheet and have to take the series in new, uncharted directions. Murphy’s duology was blessed with the self-awareness to categorize itself as the best possible archetype in TV: anthological series giving its actors and FX teams fresh starts and storylines each season to prevent fatigue and ensure longevity – but the task of keeping up Academy-caliber pedigree for 3+ years is, nevertheless, herculean. FX’s research teams certainly picked the perfect setting to give it the best chances, playing off #MeToo and societal anti-politician fervor after the midst of one of biggest circuses of an election in the history of this nation in Nov. 2020 by taking us back a few decades: The Scandalous Affair [& Impeachment] Of President Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky in 1995.

An Open Throne Of Political-Dramas

Ever Since The TV Series That Inaugurated The Streaming Age Closed, We Craved A Political Drama With HOC Bingeworthy X-Factor; ACS:I Mixedly Achieves It – But Definitely Captivates With Its Chosen Topic

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Though it’s the weakest ACS season, ~genre/tonally-confused, and mixed between a journalistic exposé on humanity in scandals, #MeToo dynamics on the world’s biggest stage, & chaos of tabloids, S3: Impeachment is ever-gripping, proficiently-acted melodrama on one of the most lurid and incomprehensible romances in U.S. history. Based on the true story that shocked the nation, ACS:I wows by its historical accuracy to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. This is of little surprise, given the fact that the intern who actually lived through the events herself was signed onto be an executive producer: Monica Lewinsky. Giving M.L. the intimate creative freedom to cherrypick what did and didn’t happen from the screenplay offers real-world perspective/insight and more weight/gravity than your average biopic, especially one of this platform, awards-viability, pedigree, & name-recognition able to revisit history without the snoozefest high-school history class documentary format. The series is captivating drama, hyperaddictive television, and Caraxian doomed-lover romance on the biggest stage of power in the free world: Washington, DC politicians. Ah, did we miss having a bingeworthy TV series on the topic since the original project that inaugurated The Streaming Wars alongside South Carolinian Frank Underwood was taken off-the-air: House Of Cards.

The First Impeachment In ~100 Years

The Real-Life Scandal That Shocked The Nation Told Through Its Real Perspectives, The Very Concept Of A Romance Between The Most Powerful Office In The World & A 20’s Intern Evokes ‘The Reality TV Paradox’

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The open throne of political dramas [well, besides The Crown], temptation of actors/resses to try their hands at re-or-outdoing Spacey and Wright, and divine schedule given the resurgence of sexual assault allegations by the #MeToo movement and Clintons by Hillary’s failed presidential run in 2016 brewed the perfect storm for ACS:I – one so powerful and timely, it succeeds just based on those levels alone. That’s not even including the existential fascination of the national crisis that led to the first impeachment of a U.S. president in over 100 years: drawing you in like a moth to a flame to its story told through the eyes of three women at the center of its events: Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky, and Paula Jones. Predictively by its resumé, the ciné intangibles are [mostly] top-notch; the score is lusciously-ravishing in slow-simmering orchestration, direction-prowess palpable, tonal-mix endearing (bad desk-mate comedy, FTW!), and period-authenticity/set-design perfect as it paints a late-90’s landscape of microwaveable TV trays, big hair, ‘you’ve got mail’ alerts, and dialup modems. The season’s greatest achievement, though, is how competently and comprehensively it lets its women take the reins to its reign – dominating the landscape and a solid 75% of the major cast of ACSI.

Themes

Feminism, The Double-Edged Sword Of Women’s Friendships, Pretty Privilege, Power Dynamics, Complexities & Urgency Of #MeToo On The World’s Biggest Stage

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Of foremost worth of demarcation & accolades is the duology of performances at the heart of the series: Paulson’s Linda Tripp and Feldstein’s Monica Lewinsky. ACSI is yet another showcase of why Sarah Paulson might just be the best – if not: easily Top 5 – actress in the world right now; her performance [aided by unbelievable prosthetics and VFX work to make such a vastly-divergent, pudgier archetype of her look plausibly-realistic; give FX the Emmy right now] as the demoted, pushed-over, grudge-holding, wrenchingly-humiliated/discarded public civil-servant f*cked over by her job carries the entire TV series. Beanie Feldstein has quickly risen to the top of young actress lists of recency, as well: a feminized-Jonah Hill of impressive thespian ability & range for her age we said to watch out for back in 2017’s Lady Bird and 2019’s Booksmart it’s refreshing to see get singular exposition worthy of her talents. Feldstein captures Monica Lewinsky with surgical precision beyond appearances to the youthful, spry energy, jejune naïvety, and lovestruck boy-craze on the ultimate level – a truly special casting and performance telling us the story/side of one of politics’ biggest pop culture figures. Annaleigh Ashford is a sleeper-pick who subversively ensorcels us with her Arkansas farm/church-girl charm as well, and the series packs considerable exposition on weighty themes of feminism, women friendships, print journalism vs. online gossip, and #MeToo.

A Major Cast Flaw

A Near-Perfect Cast W. A Major Exception, Clive Owen: A Fumble Of Presidential Levels – Nonlookalike, Overly-Serious, & Weakly Thespian In Arg. Biggest Character Of S3

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The complexity of each topic constitute the leitmotif of ACSI. Firstly, the series exhibitions how women can be pretty fake, manipulative, backstabbing friends to each other: shown, for e.g., in both how Kathleen is to Linda and Linda is to Monica under the guise/false-pretense of sisterhood letting a fox into the henhouse. Next, there’s ‘conservative feminism’ [throwing the definition of the term into question on show-topics like birth control and abortion] and the nary-talked about but critically important theme of pretty privilege: how being blessed with female physical attractiveness can get you rich husbands, promotions/opportunity advancements, the exclusion of work’s necessity entirely [the ultimate privilege in life], etc. solely based on superficialities – ones requiring no skill to be given and you’re exponentially more likely to possess by biological, cosmetic, and evolutionary factors if born with XX chromosomes. There’s analysis on how both average/less-pretty women and (non-seducible) men have reasons to be jealous, and how it undermines feminist equilibrium by reinforcing sexualization and punishing ambitious and hard-working women like Linda when Kathleen’s given (by easily-manipulatable men also-complicit in the cycle) her prestigious job even when unqualified and not even needing to work due to a rich husband solely because she’s attractive. Finally, there’s #MeToo. American Crime Story: Impeachment tackles the viral hashtag and conversation of just recompense for centuries of misbehavior by powerful men preying on women – but refuses to talk down to its audience, take sides, generalize, or oversimplify the narrative in reductionism. ACSI explores the history of men using power and resources to impress the other sex and secure mates since the dawn of time, yet how different the landscape has become since we evolved past caves into new environments it’s time to start rethinking and retooling/engineering society.

The Performances & Ciné Intangibles

The Greatest Achievement Of ACS:I Is Its [Female-Centric] Cast, Taking Us Into The Events Through A Lens Of 3W: Proficiently Acted By Perfectly-Cast Feldstein & Paulson

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

The series takes bold risks, bravely refusing to bow down to a public opinion preventing it from doing proper journalism on every side of its chosen topic: showing the possible exploitability and blind-spots in the [overall-praiseworthy] #MeToo movement, too. Obviously, anyone who committed sexual crimes or harassment of any kind whatsoever deserves to be punished and their victims to receive justice, but there have to be checkpoints to prove their validity – and we must remember the foundations of what this country’s legal system was built on. People must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, there needs to be corroboratory evidence [as there would be in any legal case from murder to extortion to trafficking these crimes shouldn’t be considered less than], and some kind of statute of limitations enforced – it being immoral and movement-conflicting/denigrating to capitalize on the immediate gains of a situation like Kathleen did by happily taking Linda’s prestigious job at The White House she would’ve never gotten otherwise after her soirée with Clinton, only to years later [after enjoying it and ruining lives like Linda’s] get to eat the cake too and conveniently report it after she’s done playing with the toy. ACSI also packs exposition on how there can sometimes be ulterior motives of personal gain to cases in the movement: for example, Paula’s being pushed so hard in hopes of publicity-capitalization and landing a career TV role for her husband. Finally, there’s discourse on the fact that entanglements like Lewinsky’s take two-to-tango. Bill Clinton was a repugnant scumbag and proven-womanizer with a massive preponderance of sexual assault/harassment allegations against him [which it was scary the ’90’s public comprehensively-overlooked to elect him not only once, but twice to the highest office of the free-world – much like our world did to Donald Trump, showing we still has a long way to go to correct societal misogyny], but Monica wasn’t forced to do anything. She – and Hillary for constantly-enabling and likely helping silence previous accusers – played a big role in this whole thing too, and shouldn’t be absolved of responsibility and/or complicity after-the-fact, as the show elucidates.

The Weakest ACS Series To-Date, But Good

Despite A Lusciously-Ravishing Orchestral Score & Nice Tonal-Mix (Bad Desk-Mate Comedy, FTW!), A Weakly-Cinematographed & Choppily-Written Narrative Of Convoluted TAOGV-Leftover Plot Structure

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Beyond this balanced and journalistically-complete piece on #MeToo, there is also capricious exposition on themes like print journalism vs. online gossip – even in the nescient internet age of the 1990’s through The Drudge Report. Flaws in ACSI are certainly everpresent; foremost, the writing and craftsmanship are not nearly as strong as they were the previous two seasons. This is partly to-be-expected given the masterpiece ramifications of TAOGV and TPVOS, but it’s still heartbreaking to see, on such a worthy topic, a falling-grace exhibition of comparative laziness. Clive Owen is a strikingly-miscast Bill Clinton as well – the only major faux-pas of the otherwise-stellar cast, but an extreme flaw by his critical importance in the narrative and overly-serious, nonlookalike, weakly-thespian performance. Finally, the cinematography is markedly-weaker, and the plot-structure jumping around between timeframes like mexican jumping beans is pointlessly-contrived/convoluted; it worked for a biopic-drama on a figure as creative and avant-garde as Gianni Versace, but makes no sense in a landscape as cold, realistic, and calculating as Washington, DC politics. Even despite all of these major flaws, we still thoroughly-enjoyed ACSI – possibly because of the ‘reality tv’ mental-handicap of mankind getting easily lost in such lurid romances that feel wrong, hot, and juicy to witness unfold in real-time: this boasting it with a higher drama chassis as a better alternative to the same fix, but definitely because of the critical importance of its themes brought to life by unfailable performances. Though it’s the weakest ACS season, ~genre/tonally-confused, and mixed between a journalistic exposé on humanity in scandals, #MeToo dynamics on the world’s biggest stage, & chaos of tabloids, S3: Impeachment is ever-gripping, proficiently-acted melodrama on one of the most lurid and incomprehensible romances in history.

Official CLC Score: 7.6/10