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Gaslit


So, anything interesting in the news? Crazy times.


I watched Gaslit, the STARZ drama about the 1970s Republican administration’s scandals (which seem almost quaint today). Watergate’s assorted cast of characters are led by Julia Roberts as the outspoken Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell (played by Sean Penn under a truly impressive mountain of makeup).


It took me a few episodes to adjust the show’s tone. I’m familiar with the husted, ultra-importance of All the President’s Men. But this show seems to jumpstart out of Deep Throat’s line in that classic film (thank you, Bill Goldman): “The truth is, these aren’t very bright guys. And things got out of hand.”


In Gaslit, Nixon’s cronies are all a bunch of idiots, basically. Shea Whigham plays the biggest idiot of them all—a demented, fascist comic lunatic, G. Gordon Liddy:

I’m not sure it all works, but by the end of the eight episodes, I was into it.


I didn’t even recognize Dan Stevens, whose eyes are covered by brown contacts to play John Dean—with Betty Gilpin as his wife, Mo Dean.


There’s actually a newer show about Watergate, White House Plumbers, on HBO. I’m sorry to say I watched 20 minutes and found it so frenetic and annoying, I bailed.


Then I saw Gaslit was also on, and didn’t realize it actually aired last spring.


It seems emblematic of the departing era of “peak TV” that there’s a series about a major historical event with huge stars (Julia Roberts! Sean Penn!) and it becomes so quickly and easily forgotten.


Of course, now the entire business is paralyzed by a writers’ strike, and perhaps the actors will follow on July 1st.


Nice business we used to have...and country...and planet...sigh.

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