Nolte: Ryan Murphy’s ‘American Crime Story: Impeachment’ Miniseries Tanks

Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky and Clive Owen as Bill Clinton in FX Network's "American Crime Story: Impeachment."
FX

“The Ryan Murphy FX series about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton failed to score 1 million viewers on Tuesday night,” reports Roger Friedman. “The total came in at 916,000.”

Yikes.

For context, Friedman reminds his readers that “’Impeachment’ didn’t come close to other Murphy series like ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson.’ Another Murphy series, ‘Feud,’ about the tug of war between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, started with 2.26 million viewers for example.”

In fact, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was so popular it ended up being 2016’s most-watched new series. The first episode drew five million viewers, and the final episode drew 6.2 million.

Impeachment: American Crime Story is the third entry in this franchise. The second was The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and it opened with 2.22 million viewers.

Methinks the problems with Impeachment are many. First off, America does not trust Hollywood to tell the unvarnished truth about Bill Clinton, about what really happened, especially when the series is based on a book by disgraced CNNLOL commentator Jeffrey Toobin.

Gee, lemme guess: Republicans eeeevil, Democrats good.

Secondly, after a terrific run, the bloom is coming off the Ryan Murphy rose. This isn’t a criticism per se. He had a helluva run, and most artists have only a handful of great ones in them before the muse moves along. The truth, though, is that his recent offerings — the woke Pose, the woke Politician, the woke Ratched, and most especially the unwatchably woke Hollywood — prove he’s lost the golden touch. This is death when you’re a brand. People stop trusting your judgment. There are just too many other options out there to waste your time on a guy who’s disappointed you so many times.

Finally, Clive Owen looks ridiculous in that prosthetic nose playing Bill Clinton, and Beanie Feldstein looks nothing like Monica Lewinsky. The casting is terrible. In fact, this might be the first time in history where the real people had ten times more charisma than the supposed stars who are portraying them. Usually, it’s the other way around.

Whatever you think of Bill Clinton, and I don’t think much, he was a dazzling presence, and none of that comes across in Clive Owen’s portrayal.

Same with Monica Lewinsky. Beanie Feldstein is round and blah, whereas Lewinsky was (and still is) a real beauty and never appeared anything close to round. As wrong as that relationship was, you could at least understand where the sparks came from. These actors produce none of that, which is a breathtaking failure of casting.

This is a shame, too. I was excited about the American Crime Story franchise. Nothing else Murphy does really interests me (Feud was okay), but The People v. O.J. Simpson is so good I’ve already sat through it twice. But then part two came along, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and I didn’t even make it through the first episode. Maybe that’s my fault for being so heterosexual.

Another problem might be that with the documentaries and news stories and magazine profiles of late, we’re all kind of Monica Lewinsky’d out.

Regardless, Murphy has a real problem on his hands. All he has is his brand and Netflix just buried him in cash, but he’s not delivering anymore.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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