TCA 2021: Writer Sarah Burgess tells TheWrap those ”graphic sexual“ details were ”something that much of the audience already knew“
Impeachment: American Crime Story — Pictured: Beanie Fieldstein as Monica Lewinsky. CR. Kurt Iswarienko/FX
Ryan Murphy’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story” tells the story of the infamous affair between President Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. While the FX anthology will dive into many details surrounding the scandal, it will not include depictions of sex scenes between Lewinsky (played by Beanie Feldstein) and Clinton (Clive Owen).
In fact, the most intimate interaction you’ll see occur between the two over the first few episodes of “Impeachment,” which premieres Sept. 7, is a kiss. And the reason for that decision, according to writer Sarah Burgess, is because enough of the public already knows the “graphic sexual detail” of the 90s scandal — like the blue dress Lewinsky kept that was stained with Clinton’s semen after she performed oral sex on him.
“It was always my instinct to write it the way you saw it,” Burgess told TheWrap while sitting on a virtual panel for “Impeachment: American Crime Story” during the Television Critics Association’s press tour Friday. “I never — we actually didn’t discuss that so much, I think it was just sort of my first drafts. It’s really shocking… I was like a preteen when this came out and I remember the Star report being in The Washington Post, which is like my hometown newspaper. Because the graphic sexual detail was the headline in 1998, it felt like… first of all, something that much of the audience already knew.”
She continued: “Like you mentioned the blue dress, like, everyone knows precisely the mechanics of that and what that is. And I think a lot of my thinking has always been to sort of put us in Monica’s shoes through Beanie, this extremely young person who shows up in D.C. with her whole life ahead of her. And to feel like, who the human being was around that, what the feelings were around that and her relationship with Bill, it never felt like the move to me. And I don’t remember, I mean, Brad and Nina, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember any intensive discussions about doing it another way.”
Executive producer Nina Jacobson added that the show’s decision to keep the physical aspects of Clinton and Lewinsky’s relationship off screen was “always the intention,” viewers will see certain elements included as the season progresses.
“No, I think that was always the intention. And you’ll see, as you see the rest of the season, that we are very mindful of what we show when, and why, and what we don’t show, and why. And it definitely was a very calculated instinct and I think a really good one from Sarah and something that I think we knew early, early on, collectively, that we wanted to approach it the way it ultimately is approached. But also let the series speak to that as you get to the last episodes.”
Feldstein added she “completely” agrees with the way “Impeachment” handled intimate scenes between Lewinsky and Clinton.
More to come…
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