‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’: Why Beanie Feldstein’s Monica Lewinsky Is a Must-See
One of the most shocking political scandals of the 20th century started with two work friends on the phone, sharing secrets about their lives. Hmm, secrets? More like bombshells. White House intern Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) relayed to career civil servant Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen).
Then, in what Impeachment: American Crime Story writer Sarah Burgess calls an “incredible betrayal,” Tripp began secretly recording the conversations and alerted lawyers for Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford), a woman who was suing Clinton for sexual harassment. Tripp’s actions opened a Pandora’s box that would lead to a sitting president’s impeachment and, in the pop culture realm, endless punchlines about a certain blue dress.
This latest American Crime Story entry, following up Emmy winners The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016) and The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018), zeroes in on the years 1996 to 1999, when the affair was exposed and the impeachment trial held. Burgess says her way into the story was to focus on the points of view of Lewinsky, Tripp and Jones. Viewers later see things from the perspective of POTUS and First Lady Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco). “You will be surprised by the way she is woven in,” Burgess teases.
The 10-episode series is primarily based on Jeffrey Toobin’s A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. (“There were so many books about this, and I’ve read all of them,” says Burgess.) But an invaluable source for the project was Lewinsky, an exec producer who shared thoughts on every script. “She’s the only person who walked in those shoes,” notes Burgess.
And after spending time with Lewinsky, Burgess says Feldstein’s portrayal left her awestruck. “Monica has this warmth, charisma and ability to connect to people, and I remember feeling that in Beanie’s first scenes. I was very moved.”
Impeachment: American Crime Story, Premiere, Tuesday, September 7, 10/9c, FX
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2021 Fall Preview issue. For more inside scoop on the new fall TV season, pick up the issue, on newsstands Thursday, August 26.