“History isn’t written by the vulnerable masses—the pissers, the humours, the queer, and the women. It’s written and rewritten by soldiers with the banners of kings.” So in the opening minutes of Starz’s G. Gordon Lidy (She Whigham) announces gaslit, If it wasn’t already clear which camp he sees himself in, the camera slowly zooms out to reveal him holding his open palm over a flame, which is as useless as a matchstick. Unpleasantly dramatic.
What he doesn’t realize is that the series he’s in is actually the history of those supposedly vulnerable masses, not a particularly flattering “soldiers” like him. Adapted by Robby Pickering from the podcast slow burn, gaslit aims to shed light on the untold (or at least known) stories surrounding watergate Scandal, which is a good target on its face. The problem is that it appears All The untold stories of the Watergate scandal together, breaking them together into an amusing but wildly disparate miniseries.
Totally amusing, but wildly uneven.
There’s probably a pretty good feature film buried in those eight-hour episodes, seven of which were sent off to critics. In particular, a really cool feature film about Julia Roberts’ Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell (a sensitive pile of prosthetics I’m told is Sean Penn). After an agent traps her in a hotel room to prevent her from uncovering the truth about the Watergate break-in, Martha blows the whistle anyway—only a maniac, by Nixon’s staff in an attempt to discredit her account. To indulge in public in the form of a delusional intoxicant.
Roberts is dazzled in the early episodes as Martha, who spends her days laughing through DC parties as if she owns the room and everyone in it (to the wrath of her husband’s colleagues), and then her The journalist rings up friends to share heated gossip from said parties (much to the wrath of her husband’s colleagues). When Martha’s story takes its darker turn, Roberts peels back her thick layers of Southern charm to reveal a more vulnerable side, her physical and emotional wounds serving as proof at the length of the brutality that the President The acolytes were ready to go to serve him.
Or maybe the movie is a black comedy with Whigham’s hilarious, terrifyingly intense Liddy at the center, who plays White House attorney John Dean (Dan Stevens), Chief of Staff HR Haldeman (Nate Faxon), allies like spineless, brainless. Surrounded by a wandering cast of fools. Jeb Magruder (Hamish Linklater) and political advisor Charles Colson (Patton Oswalt). mocking their scenes gaslit They seem to believe that they are in a clever espionage thriller or an important political drama or, in Liddy’s case, a dark war epic la. Apocalypse Now, Meanwhile, his cowardice and incompetence feel like something crafted by Armando Iannucci or the Coen brothers.
Maybe there’s even a thoughtful little drama to be made about Watergate security guard Frank Wills (Patrick Walker), who witnessed and reported the break-in for the first time, and whose life was derailed by the resulting fame. Or the unexpected love story between John Dean and his more charismatic, liberal-leaning wife Mo (Betty Gilpin), who freely admits to hating him at first sight.
But it’s not clear at all what all these narratives are doing as part of the same mini-series, and they suffer from being lumped together. Martha’s sad story feels lighter because gaslit Her trauma doesn’t need the seriousness and attention it deserves—not when it needs to stay light enough to deliver a wacky spectacle about political operatives. Which, in turn, gets bloated by subplots like John and Mo’s romance, when gaslit Can’t even make a compelling case for what the two of them ever saw in each other, or why we should care in the first place. It just doesn’t have time when it has to get through all those other stories.
It’s not that something doesn’t work. I gasped at some of Martha’s scariest and saddest moments, and coaxed into an episode of six digressions about Frank searching for his lost cat. (Full disclosure: I’m a total cat person.) In and around the White House, heavy-handed actors laugh from scene to scene, often When they’re not doing much—like when Linklater’s Magruder anxiously chases away a butterfly in his front yard, everything looks stupid and pathetic as FBI agents are chasing him (Chris Messina and Carlos Valdés) judge him to be Happening. And gaslit Really breaks up with scenes from Liddy, who by episode seven has become so disaffected that the real is on the verge.
Collectively, these tales try to forge a new understanding of Watergate, from its unlikely, unheard of perspective—well, if not necessarily heroes, at least the people who helped propel it forward. In this version, the supposedly important and powerful white men of the White House, Martha the Mouth, a black security guard, a Latino FBI agent, take a backseat to shrewd political wives like Moe, who helped their drifting husbands. . scam.
But individual installments feel too boring and unfocused, with too many jarring tonal changes and little sense of narrative rhythm, making for too much insight at the end. It seems that initially, I didn’t even know the series was supposed to be eight episodes long — after watching seven I was sent, the seventh I felt was a good place to end either way. It’s a neat idea, to take back control of history from those soldiers and put it in the hands of the people. If the series achieves nothing else, it’s guaranteed to teach some audience members stories they didn’t know before. It’s too bad that in its mess, gaslit stops far away from judging them.