The third season of Ryan Murphy’s FX show, American Crime Story, will recreate the 1998 impeachment of former president Bill Clinton. But this time, audiences will hear the story from the perspective of Monica Lewinsky –– the subject of the controversy who is often slut-shamed and ridiculed for her involvement.
Ryan Murphy is a screenwriter, producer, and director known for his fruitful contributions to television and pop culture. His creative style has led to the success of multiple TV series, from the cheerful teen drama Glee to the macabre and cult-classic American Horror Story. Murphy has been nominated for 30 Primetime Emmy awards and has won six.
Murphy’s success stems from his unique storytelling abilities. More specifically, his ability to tell stories that have never been told before, or stories that the public has ignored for years. That’s what he’s attempting to do in the third installment of his Emmy-winning miniseries, titled Impeachment: American Crime Story.
The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal of the late 90s unraveled when Lewinksy, an unpaid 22-year-old intern at the White House, was discovered to be having an affair with President Bill Clinton. The President was impeached, but was never removed from office despite lying under oath when asked about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky. Lewinsky, however, had to deal with a scandal that ruined her career, her reputation, and her life.
Lewkinsky refers to the aftermath of the scandal as an act of survival, as she considers herself a survivor of sexual exploitation. “I’m beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot, although power imbalances – and the ability to abuse them – do exist even when the sex has been consensual,” she said.
Murphy invited Lewinsky to co-produce the show, allowing her to control the narrative and retell the story that, for the last 20 years, has been skewed to villainize her.
Murphy is working on an upcoming Netflix series titled Ratched, an adaptation of the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It attempts to humanize Nurse Ratched, the villainously authoritative figure that is antagonized throughout the book and its 1975 film adaptation.
By shifting the perspective of these stories, fictional or not, Murphy is helping to create a space where women can take control of a narrative that originally alienated them.