The year is 1995. Forrest Gump wins Best Picture at the Oscars, Windows 95 makes its PC debut with that iconic start-up chime sound, and Selena Quintanilla’s life is tragically cut short. But nothing could have prepared us for the political nightmare that would change history as we knew it — and the ensuing fallout, including the second impeachment of a sitting US president, a lurid special counsel report that leaves nothing to the imagination, and a young woman’s life defined by public cruelty. FX’s American Crime Story is tackling the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton, and has just released its first look at one of America’s biggest scandals.
In the short teaser, Monica Lewinsky, played by Beanie Feldstein, is walking through the West Wing in a workplace-appropriate red dress. But in classic film theory, characters wearing the color red often later find themselves in hot water; this shot of Lewinsky feels especially foreboding as she struts with a purpose towards the Oval Office. She’s holding paperwork in a manila folder, but it’s a just a disguise for a gift box containing that silk tie. A secretary announces her arrival, and the Oval Office door swings open; President Clinton (Clive Owen) is alone, and he slowly swivels towards her at the Resolute Desk.
Of course, we all know what happens next. In her TED Talk, Lewinsky later said that she fell in love with Clinton; he effectively fed her to wolves of the media, the public, and Special Counsel Ken Starr. She was only 22 at the time, the teaser underscores how, from Lewinsky’s perspective, there were true romantic feelings involved.
But the story of the impeachment scandal goes far beyond a sexual relationship. There’s an infamous cast of characters central to the tale, including Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford), Matt Drudge (Billy Eichner), FBI Special Agent Fallon (Brian Maillard), and Edie Falco, who stars as Hillary Clinton. Previously, ACS gave us riveting dramatizations of the O.J. Simpson trial and Gianni Versace murders, but the complexities of the impeachment should provide for especially rich TV.
American Crime Story: Impeachment premieres on FX on September 7. You can watch the teaser below.