News and Commentary

Monica Lewinsky Will Produce The Next ‘American Crime Story’ About Clinton Sex Scandal
Monica Lewinsky attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Contributor/Getty Images

The new season of FX’s “American Crime Story” about the Bill Clinton sex scandal will be arriving just on the eve of the 2020 election, and the new revelation is that Monica Lewinsky is producing it.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, FX announced at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that Monica Lewinsky will be on board to help produce the multi-episode miniseries about the tumultuous period during Clinton’s presidency in which the Republican-controlled House impeached him for lying under oath about having a sexual affair with the White House intern. Titled, “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” the story will be based on Jeffrey Toobin’s best-selling book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.”

Producer Ryan Murphy told THR back in April 2018 that he originally approached Lewinsky to produce the show. “I told her, ‘Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do,'” he said. ‘If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer and you should make all the godd*** money.'”

FX CEO John Landgraf said Tuesday in a press release that season three will provide a “relevant, nuanced” approach to a polarizing subject in the same way season one did with “The People vs. OJ Simpson.”

“FX’s ‘American Crime Story’ franchise has become a cultural touchstone, providing greater context for stories that deserve greater understanding like the O.J. Simpson trial and saga, and Andrew Cunanan’s tragic crime spree which concluded with the assassination of Gianni Versace,” Landgraf said. “This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining. ‘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.”

Whether or not the show provides an actual nuanced approach to the story remains to be seen. Back in 2017, when Ryan Murphy first announced the Monica Lewinsky-produced season, he emphasized that it will focus on how Republicans used the scandal as a political tool to impeach Clinton.

“It’s a very interesting book,” Murphy said about the source material. “It’s not really about Hillary Clinton. That book is about the rise of a certain segment of a right-ring group of people who despised the Clintons and used three women, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp to try and tear him down. The Toobin book is amazing. And there are a lot of bizarre crimes within that book that you can highlight.”

FX, however, has been taking some flak on social media for choosing to air the show just weeks before the 2020 election; the critics argue that it will give President Trump ample ability to shift the conversation back on the Clintons.

“Airing this during the final six weeks of the 2020 election is an abysmal idea. I’m looking forward to seeing it, and I hope FX reconsiders the timing,” said journalist Mark Harris. “There is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the homestretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Clintons. Don’t do this. It’s a disservice to our fragile political system and to the talented people involved in this show.”

Landgraf defended the decision to air the episode at that time in the name of artistic integrity and nuance. “Let me just say something about the current environment,” Landgraf said. “This certainty that says we can’t have conversations, we can’t make art, we can’t have nuance, that I won’t even wait to pronounce judgment, is toxic in the media environment. I believe very, very strongly in what we’re making. I’ve read it, I think it’s great.”

“I don’t believe it’s going to decide who’s the next president of the United States,” he continued. “That’s a little hysterical, from my standpoint, somebody saying that’s going to affect the next presidential election.”