First there was The People Vs O.J. Simpson, and it was very good, offering up a gripping dramatisation of one of the most infamous murder trials of the 90s and stunning turns from an ensemble that included John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Sterling K. Brown, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Then there was The Assassination of Gianni Versace, covering the murder of the fashion mogul and also reaping critical and popular plaudits. Now it’s the third at bat for American Crime Story, prolific TV producer Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, which this time out looks at the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen) for sexual impropriety. That’s some juicy material right there—how does ACS handle it?
In a word, poorly. Generally speaking, the two previous seasons sublimated Murphy’s tendency towards the lurid and camp in service to their stories, while Impeachment often revels in it. Which is not to say ‘lurid and camp’ are necessarily bad things, and you could argue that if there’s a time and place for salaciousness, it’s in a story about a philandering president that involves unusual uses for cigars and a sketch of the First Penis being entered into evidence.