Here’s the latest in my posts on prestige TV – I have watched the Julia Roberts Watergate drama and I have thoughts!
So Gaslit tells some of the untold stories of the Watergate saga based on the Watergate series Slate podcast Slowburn. The main focus is Martha Mitchell (played by Julia Roberts) who was the wife of the Attorney General and a celebrity socialite, but it also follows John Dean (Dan Stevens) the White House counsel, Frank Willis (Patrick Walker) the Watergate security guard and G Gordon Liddy (Shea Whigham) and his band of burglars.
In fact the actual burglary is a very small part of this story and over very fast but the fall out of it is huge. Obviously it took down a president – and to a point where most people don’t know that the vice-president was also a crook unless you’ve also read (or listened to) Bag Man or done some research of your own* – but it also impacted a huge number of other people, some of whom are sympathetic, some who are… not.
There are some fabulous performances in this. Julia Roberts is amazing as The Mouth of the South, Martha Mitchell. It might be the best acting I’ve seen her do. Dan Stevens is excellent in a slippery out for everything he can get to advance himself role. I was frankly terrified of Shea Whigham’s Liddy – and really need to go and do some reading to see if he was really that insane. And then there is Sean Penn who is absolutely unrecognisable – to the point where I had to check it was him moee than once – as Mitchell. As a whole it is quite bleak – you know it’s bad when you’re rooting for a cat to turn up alive – but it’s really worth some of your time if you’re even vaguely interested in American politics. It doesn’t have the (dark) humour that The Dropout has, but it is compelling and thought provoking.
Gaslit is on Starzplay, which you can get via Amazon Prime – I watched it all during my seven day free trial!
* it’s also a great trivia question – who is the only unelected president of the United States: answer Gerald Ford who was appointed to vice president after Spiro Agnew stood down.