Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Ryan Murphy’s entertainment factory. He has done some good work – “Glee” was fun for a while – but sooner or later it seems he can’t restrain himself, or the people who work for him, from getting all ooh-look-at-me-being-transgressive-here. I just get sick of it. I feel like it’s a movie I’ve seen once, didn’t like, and don’t need to sit through again.
He’s generally very well-liked by critics, too.
I didn’t watch the first “American Crime Story,” his limited series that looks at one big messy story about a terrible you-know-what. It was about the O.J. Simpson case, and I OD’d on that one when it happened. I did see the second season, on the murder of Gianni Versace, at least most of it. But the third season, about the impeachment of Bill Clinton, dropped on Hulu recently and I am there for it.
Murphy tends to use the same actors over and over, his own little repertory company, with one, Sarah Paulson, his muse. She was Marcia Clark in the O.J. story, and she’s Linda Tripp in the impeachment saga. Early criticism was that Murphy would have been better off casting another actress than putting Paulson in a wig and fat suit to play Tripp, and I would have agreed in the early episodes, but it’s paying off at the end. She brings some humanity to a thoroughly unlikable person, no small feat.
Tripp is styled as the hero of her own movie, a woman who sees herself as a Very Important Person Who Is Only Doing Her Patriotic Duty, even as she does one shitty thing after another — primarily taping Monica Lewinsky. At one point, she hisses that Ronald Reagan never set foot in the Oval Office without a suit and tie, but the Clintons OMG with their pizza and rock ‘n’ roll and such disrespect, blah blah blah. The rest of the players – Ken Starr and his creep squad, Matt Drudge, Paula Jones, Susan Carpenter McMillan, the whole freak squad – comes to vivid life. I find myself being whipsawed through the whole experience again, how betrayed I felt at first (an intern? REALLY?) followed by the whole greasy shitshow.
Starr doesn’t come off well. Neither does his smarmy little aide, Brett Kavanaugh. Many of the supporting cast are superior — Margo Martindale as Lucianne Goldberg in particular — although I couldn’t buy Edie Falco as Hillary. She’s too New Jersey to play a Midwestern girl.
But as a dramatization of an appalling chapter in American history, it works very well. God, I remember pulling into the Meijer in Fort Wayne during the impeachment debate, when Larry Flynt was dropping his bombshells about all those Republican hypocrites, and just sitting in my car, too stunned to even buy my groceries.
No wonder we got Trump. We deserved him.
The end of the week, tra-la tra-la. Now, just to make sure I go into it with a stomach of bile, think I’ll read about Ginni Thomas. You have a better one.