The historical series tells a page of America, which will especially interest Americans. But thanks to her sparkling cast, she suddenly becomes formidable.
On this side of the Atlantic, we only know about Watergate what the textbooks for Nineteenth or Terminale were kind enough to tell us. Basically, it was a dirty spy case, leading to the downfall and resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974! A trauma that marked America and that Gaslit intends to tell in its own way, taking a new narrative angle: that of the Republican camp!
The miniseries – available on Starzplay in France today – traces the small stories behind the big one and introduces us to forgotten figures in the scandal – from the opportunistic and bumbling subordinates of Nixon, to the deranged fanatics who helped or abetted. In this gallery of earthy second knives with long teeth or in the wrong place at the wrong time, Gaslit focuses on Martha Mitchell, socialite wife of Attorney General John Mitchell, who did not hesitate to publicly implicate Nixon in Watergate, upsetting the presidency and her own life in the process…
Yes The President’s Men engraved in stone a very Hollywood dramatization of this state affair which overthrew the power in place, the series Gaslit aims to offer a less Manichean perspective. A vision certainly more authentic and which humanizes, at the very least, the Republican camp. Very often to make fun of him, in the tone of political comedy, but also to bring out certain empathetic figures. Like Martha Mitchell, 70’s icon in the USA, who died of devastating cancer in 1976 – just after the trial – and totally unknown in France. Incarnated by a resplendent Julia Roberts, Martha appears here as a moving tragic heroine, devoted wife of John Mitchell, but who caused his downfall: “I think they were madly in love, and I think they had a wonderful, passionate relationship. And in the end, that relationship was her downfall, because without him, she stopped feeling like she knew who she was…” analysis julia robert in EW.
This admirable Martha symbolizes the puzzle pieces that Gaslit intends to put back on the table, not only to dwell on the burglary of the Watergate building – which happens concretely from episode 2 – but better to draw its outlines. Its consequences. His victims.
Of course, as his pitch suggests, Gaslit is a series that will speak first and foremost to American audiences. It’s a piece of his time, a page in the history of Uncle Sam, that the show depicts meticulously. Suffice to say that all this will leave a lot of people indifferent outside the borders of the United States… Not very didactic, Gaslit therefore requires a certain investment on this side of the ocean, to fully understand the issues and the forces involved. But the effort seems easy, when supported by such a phenomenal cast.
Sean Penn is (literally) unrecognizable as John Mitchell, delivering a rather disturbing “actor studio” performance. But more than the star couple, it’s the whole cast that is stunning, striking in giving life and substance to these improbable anti-heroes: with Dan Stevens (Legion), Betty Gilpin (GLOW), Hamish Linklater (Midnight Sermons) or Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) to support Julia RobertsWatergate will have no more secrets for you.