Impeachment: American Crime Story

Ryan Murphy's take on the Clinton impeachment has a bipartisan message about the corrupting nature of power.


Impeachment, the third season of TV megaproducer Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story anthology series on FX, premiered within two years of two real-life presidential impeachments.

The show details the 1990s events leading to Bill Clinton's impeachment. The cast is populated with a combination of Murphy's regular collaborators (Sarah Paulson, Judith Light) and oft-distracting stunt casting (Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Cobie Smulders as an eerily pitch-perfect Ann Coulter). The real Monica Lewinsky serves as a producer.

Paulson portrays a complex Linda Tripp, simultaneously pitiable yet unsympathetic: bitter and lonely, plagued by paranoia and delusions of grandeur. But Tripp, who struggles to connect with her own children, forms a seemingly genuine maternal bond with Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein)—ultimately betraying her friend not out of malice but from a sense of motherly duty.

Bill Clinton (Clive Owen doing a remarkably serviceable Southern drawl) might remind a viewer in 2021 of a more recent president facing impeachment. As lawsuits and investigations assail him, Clinton lashes out: "I keep getting sidetracked by this fucking witch hunt!" and "They're trying to use the legal system to overturn an election!"

Though he was a vocal Hillary supporter, Murphy's take on the Clinton impeachment has a bipartisan message: Power corrupts, and to those who possess it, any threat to that power feels illegitimate.