Beanie Feldstein’s task in ‘Impeachment’ is to be Monica Lewinsky’s ‘bodyguard’

beanie w magazine

Beanie Feldstein covers the latest issue of W Magazine to promote American Crime Story: Impeachment, because I guess we need to endlessly relitigate President Bill Clinton’s impeachment scandal yet again. It’s been 23 years since Clinton was impeached, and it remains one of the stupidest political moments of my lifetime, especially given all of the bullsh-t that came after. The more I think about this series, the dumber I find it. Still, I hope it’s well-done for Beanie’s sake. It’s not her fault the story is such a sh-tshow. Beanie plays Monica Lewinsky, and Lewinsky serves as a producer on the film, and Beanie got to meet Monica. Beanie feels very protective of Monica and her story, and so be it. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The 2020 Oscars: “I was wearing a stunning dress that had a halter clasp at the neck… The gown had boning and a sort of shelf for the bust, but there was no bra involved. I’m all about representation, and I’m here to represent big, low-hanging Jewish breasts. The halter on the dress was struggling. It was hanging on for dear life. There was a countdown clock backstage, and there was a minute and 20 seconds left before I had to go on in front of an audience of millions. Next to me was the wall of Oscar statues that they were about to hand out to incredible people. I was nervous and accidentally stepped on the front hem of my dress, and with that step, the clasp gave way. At that point, there was 18 seconds to go. Luckily, someone backstage had a safety pin and reclasped me, but I almost flashed the entire world that night. The moral of this story is, I’m a busty, low-hanging Jewish girl, and you have to be who you are. Which means no more halters.”

On Barbra Streisand: “My first celebrity crush was Barbra. My mom made me a leopard coat and hat, and I did a full photo shoot in my driveway. Actually, Jonah skateboarded through and knocked me down, so there are tons of pictures of me crying in my Funny Girl costume.”

Her parents always supported their kids’ showbiz dreams: “My parents were incredibly encouraging. And there are many years between us; when Jonah was coming up, I was, like, in geometry class.”

Her partner is a woman: “I have two brothers and two nephews. While I love being with the boys, it’s no wonder I ended up with a woman!”

Playing the Monica Lewinsky-Linda Tripp friendship: “As an actor, I’ve done a lot of stories about platonic romance. And when you’re young, those relationships, usually between women, can be deeper than most sexual romances. As an actor, you dream of telling stories that mean something to you. And female friendship is very important to me.”

Playing Monica: “I felt gutted by some of the things that Monica went through. My task is to be Monica’s bodyguard—to put my body in front of hers. It’s my job to portray her pain, because I feel so much for her. Monica and I are cut from the same cloth in so many ways. We’re both Jewish girls from L.A. who listen to show tunes on the treadmill! But still, I never felt less in my comfort place than when I was playing Monica. Obviously, I’m queer, so I don’t know if I’d flirt with the president, but who knows? When Clinton shined his light on you, there was no better feeling in the world. It wouldn’t matter if you were male, female, nonbinary, queer. When that man put his spotlight on you, the world fell away. And if I was 22 and the most powerful person in the world focused his high beams on me, I would probably do the exact same thing as Monica.”

[From W Magazine]

I go back and forth all the time about Monica’s age and what it meant. When I was that age, I would have been up for flirting with the president and I would have been absolutely dumb enough to have an affair with a married man and tell a friend every detail about it. But I do feel like too many people want to infantilize Monica, and maybe Monica wants to be infantilized. What happened to her was awful and there was so much misogyny and shaming. But she waltzed right into that affair and she wasn’t a child. I don’t know – that’s something that worries me about this series too, that it will lean too heavily on Monica’s narrative about how she was just a “kid” and she didn’t have any agency.

Cover & IG courtesy of W Magazine.

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25 Responses to “Beanie Feldstein’s task in ‘Impeachment’ is to be Monica Lewinsky’s ‘bodyguard’”

  1. milliemollie says:

    I’m so annoyed with this fictional Monica. She’s so whiney and stupid. But i guess that’s how the real Monica was at that time if she’s okay with the version of her?

  2. Jess says:

    I am Monica’s age and was in DC and fear I would have done the very same thing. Esp w Clinton and his charisma – my mom got to say a few words to him once and gushed about how sexy he was (that was before she went full on right wing nut). That’s a tough age. She was an adult but couldn’t really appreciate the significance of what she was doing. So I definitely blame Clinton and I think she was a victim after the fact (w Starr, the media, etc) but it’s hard to think of her as a MeToo victim.

    • Sigmund says:

      Lewinsky also had a history of sexual exploitation where she’d been involved with an older man (her teacher) while she was underage and thus not able to legally consent. I’m shocked how many people try to refer to it as a “relationship” (hello misogyny!) and use it as proof that she “went after” Clinton.

      Honestly, older, more experienced women without her history of abuse have been swayed by Clinton’s power and charm. It’s not infantilization to acknowledge that she was coming from a very different place than Clinton was, and her history of abuse was used against her.

      • remarks says:

        I thought she was 18, after she graduated high school, when she had the affair with her teacher. He likely exploited her, given the age gap, but legally I think she may have been able to consent.

    • Juniper says:

      My father met Bill Clinton and he said that he totally got it. He said that Bill Clinton makes you feel like you are the most important person to him in the time he’s speaking to you and that he was the most charismatic person he ever met.

  3. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    While I think commiting Lewinsky’s story to celluloid perpetuity is not good (it’s exploitative, imo), I can’t believe how good Beanie looks now. Wowzers!

  4. purple prankster says:

    Opinions on Monica are divided but everyone agrees, Bill had no say in anything.

  5. Anne Call says:

    Yeah, I’d like to see an American Crime series on what the right wing (and media) has done and continues to do to Hillary Clinton. This story is about private misbehavior and then gop political overreach and their insane basically criminal behavior about this non event.

  6. manda says:

    Kenneth Starr’s son went to my college, and was in a fraternity that friends of mine hung out in. The summer of the investigation and impeachment (98!), I heard a funny story where some of those fraternity guys happened to bump into Kenneth Starr on the mall on the 4th of july (this was back when you could still bring coolers to the mall, or maybe you still can? I’m old and don’t go down to the mall for the 4th anymore) and one of them called him a punk to his face. I wish I could remember the conversation, I know the one kid was drunk, and just responded to KS’s question with “[answer], ya punk,” and it still makes me laugh today

    Would also like to add, goodness was that an annoying summer to tell older relatives that you were interning in DC! So many stupid inappropriate jokes

    Also, I knew someone who was supposed to have interned at the white house that summer, but her offer was rescinded when she honestly responded that she had smoked pot. And I always thought that was crap

    • ANON says:

      @manda, what a slice of life! Yay for friends calling out Ken Starr.

      “So many inappropriate jokes.” I can only imagine. I was in elementary school across the country at that time, and those were bigtime playground jokes. (Both the Clinton sex scandal and not inhaling.) It’s wild to think about how much those shaming narratives can shape us so young.

  7. Jenn says:

    Beanie’s casting is interesting because she actually *looks* 22, at least to me, whereas — and this might be because I was a child, but I feel like it was also public perception — Lewinsky looked like a fully grown woman at the time. I don’t know if it’s infantilizing to emphasize how young she really was. Maybe a little.

    The Lewinsky “character” points out (a lot) that she’s from ‘90s LA, which lends insight into why this young woman seems to believe that it’s normal for adult relationships to be transactional “casting couches” (the character is obsessed with the President finding her a job). Maureen Dowd once described Lewinsky in one breath as “a ditzy, predatory intern,” which is *such* a contradiction (!), but I do think Lewinsky really believed she was worldly and sophisticated (and was not).

    P.S. I’m enjoying the show, but I read or work during it

    • remarks says:

      I wonder if Monica’s prior history with men played into how people perceived her.

      Some 22 year olds are quiet inexperienced. But she didn’t really fit the profile of how we generally perceive 22 year olds (who might have some experience but usually with boys their own age).

      I’ve also never been sure if she ever wanted a long-term career in political administration. When I think of an abuse of power, I think of a man actively sabotaging someone’s career. It didn’t seem like Bill Clinton had any intention of that with respect to her career. If anything, I think Ken Starr ruined all of her career prospects.

  8. Calypso says:

    I don’t think it’s infantilizing to say that there is a massive, massive power imbalance between a 22-year old intern and a 49/50 year old man who is the most powerful person in the world. If we can’t discuss that imbalance, we haven’t come very far since 1995. She can have full agency, she can have pursued him and wanted to be with him, but HE was the one who was married, HE was the one who implicitly has power over her, HE was the one who had a history of sexual assault and rape, and HE was the one in the wrong.

    Monica, in my opinion, didn’t really do much wrong. I don’t feel that single people are wrong to have affairs with married people, they didn’t take any vows? They are within their rights to pursue whomever they want (until they are told to stop, of course, nothing nonconsensual should ever happen), the impetus is wholly on the married person to not have affairs. I guess I don’t understand why so much hate is directed at the single person and not the married one see also: Jordyn Woods. I really think, since so often it’s a woman and often again with men who are older, richer, more powerful, that it’s another way to hate women.

    Just saying, we talk a lot more about Monica’s agency than Bill’s.

  9. Rachel says:

    I won’t comment on the ‘me too’ dynamic/narrative on this. However, I will say that I am extremely uncomfortable with the way in which Lewinsky was politicized and vilified afterwards. John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) did an interesting episode on Public Shaming that predominantly featured her (you can watch it on YouTube now as well). I highly recommend it. It’s not an exhaustive take down of the truly problematic aspect of this particular case, but it does a great job in the time available. I won’t go over the arguments here because he honestly does a way better job than I would – but the issue is in the way she was treated and the impact it had afterwards. I think it’s the reason that many have a great deal of sympathy/empathy for her.

  10. CV says:

    I remember Bill’s impeachment and I can honestly say I did not hold any sympathy for Monica in this situation, thanks to a constant stream of misogynistic press. Why were there no discussions of the immense power imbalance in that relationship? How did she become the villain when he was the one cheating, as @calypso says above?

    Not everyone is going to want to spend the time listening to this but Kara Swisher recently conducted a very revealing and insightful interview w Lewinsky and I found it very difficult not to come away very sympathetic towards her. Lewinsky is the only one in this entire scenario who had her whole life defined and, arguably, derailed by the affair. If my worst, most embarrassing and shameful moments had been broadcast to the world I am not sure I could have survived as well as she has. She has more than paid the price for what transpired, while Bill … didn’t.

    Per her comments on the podcast (link below) she had no creative control on this series, but as a producer she was able to offer notes and try to convey at least some of her story. I hope it allows her some closure and peace, because she definitely didn’t deserve what happened to her life.

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000537455131

    • remarks says:

      Clinton did get impeached. So, on some level, I think he did have to pay. It’s part of his legacy. There will always be an asterisk next to his name. Whenever people go back to look at what that asterisk means, they’ll find out what he did.

      I do think it’s unfortunate Lewinsky’s life has been defined by this saga, but I feel the blame for that goes to Ken Starr. He didn’t have to put Lewinsky through all of that and I think ultimately he abused his power over everyone else. I guess I just think of Bill as a horndog, but not someone who set out to destroy a young woman.

      • CV says:

        fair, he was impeached but survived like TFG did 2x in 2020 and 2021

        still lived and living a great life

      • remarks says:

        Clinton is living a great life, true. But I don’t necessarily think that’s surprising for an ex-President. Post-presidency, he was never going to wind up with an average or unhappy life, with or without moral character.

  11. Melissa says:

    Almost every comment section on articles on here about her have numerous people pointing out that she had an affair with her teacher prior to her affair with Bill. My question is, what are you trying to prove with this point? All I think when I read that is she clearly suffered some sort of abuse or trauma early on that made her vulnerable to older men and made her seek this sort of validation from older men.
    Instead of victim-blaming her, stop and think about the fact that this woman suffered abuse and then was further abused by men in power who were older and not only should’ve known better, but are to blame for targeting someone that they could see that was vulnerable enough for them to abuse.

    • Jaded says:

      She suffered NO abuse when she was growing up. When she was 15 her parents divorced and that was hard on her, as divorce is with any children, but I don’t think it was enough to traumatize her. When she got the internship at the WH she made herself a complete pest flirting with George Stephanopolous and he asked his EA to get rid of her, so off she went to an internship in Clinton’s office. She told friends she was going to have to get her presidential kneepads on so saying Clinton abused her and took advantage of her “trauma” is simply wrong. Yes, Monica had some psychological issues but she is not the innocent one in this situation, she chased Clinton like a heat-seeking missile and he was dumb enough to go for it.

  12. Ann says:

    Bill Clinton has only himself to blame for having an affair with an intern young enough to be his daughter, even if she did set her cap for him. He was a married adult and POTUS, he should have resisted. That said, I blame Starr and the Republicans for making the whole damn country go through that impeachment circus. It was a stupid, cynical waste of precious time and attention.

    The truth is, IMO, Bill Clinton would have won a third term if he could have run again. He was a horndog but he was a pretty good President and people just liked him. The GOP hated him because he was so likable and got away with stuff. It drove them mad.

    I have tried and tried to find the SNL clip of Darrel Hammond as Bill Clinton coming to the podium to address the country right after the Senate voted not to impeach. All he did was walk up slowly, bite his lip, give the thumbs-up and say: “I.Am.Bulletproof” and then walk away.

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