Watergate was one of the biggest political scandals and led to the so far only impeachment of the American president, Richard Nixon, in the early seventies. Today practically everything and anything is known about Watergate, books were written about it in the seventies, and the masterpiece “All the President’s Men” was filmed in which Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who exposed the whole scandal. Although almost half a century has passed since Watergate, it is still an extremely intriguing case, at the same time perhaps an exemplary example of how a combination of arrogance, hypocrisy, insanity, corruption, corruption and the feeling that no one can do anything can lead to backlash and disaster. The Watergate case was also the case after which average citizens realized that politicians cannot be trusted and that they are mostly power-hungry liars ready to do everything possible to stay in their positions as long as possible.
So even though we know everything about Watergate, this intriguing and exciting mini-series approaches the treatment of the subject from the perspective of characters who may not have been so prominent and who have since been forgotten. “Gaslit” is a series in which we also have two big acting stars from the A list. An almost unrecognizable Sean Penn is Nixon’s head of the judicial apparatus, John Mitchell, while the extraordinary Julia Roberts is his wife Martha Mitchell, a social climber from the American South and a big star of the conservative scene at the time, who actually decided to be the first to speak publicly about the eavesdropping scandal of the Democrats before the 1972 election. .
What happened to Martha is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that a psychological phenomenon (the Martha Mitchell effect) is named after her, in which psychiatrists come to the conclusion that a certain event reported by a patient is the product of delirium or an altered state of consciousness, when that event was actually real. . Therefore, it is not surprising that after Martha starts talking about the scandals and everything she experienced, saw and heard, she will be declared crazy, and her husband, one of those typical American conservative hawks, will have to choose between loyalty to his wife and the president. But Martha is not the only one who will find herself in trouble because of the knowledge about Watergate, but in this cynical series about the world of deceitful, lying hypocrites, rotten and corrupt crooks ready to do anything just to get ahead, we also follow how the wiretapping happened in the first place.
Although Nixon is the central figure of the story, the character that everyone talks about, that is constantly mentioned and everything revolves around him and that everyone wants to see him, we do not see the president himself at all in the entire series. However, right away in the first episode, we understand that he ordered Mitchell to organize a wiretapping operation of the Democratic headquarters in the election, and he will then pass it on to a low-ranking White House official, John Dean (Dan Stevens). Dean will hire a former FBI agent, Gordon Liddy (a brilliantly shot Shea Wigham), a complete lunatic prone to delusions and the worst espionage methods, for the action. When we see what kind of team of complete lunatics, incompetents, sycophants, impersonal careerists and henchmen gathered for this delicate task, then we should not be surprised at all what happened later.
The creator of the series, Robbie Pickering, did a great job of bringing the whole story not only from a cynical, but also an ironic perspective, and with a gap of almost half a century, it seems especially striking and shocking that such a gallery of types was gathered for such a task. One of the characters makes a great point when he says that the average person, when he sees politicians and all those people around them, assumes that they must be capable, wise and quality people, but what if these people are actually complete idiots, which they often are. We see how there is a group of complete lunatics, maniacs and faceless careerists ready to follow everything they are told without question, and when the situation starts to fall apart, everyone just looks to save their ass and get someone else in.
When I look at all those Republican sycophants and henchmen, slimy wobblers and incompetents who want to lick Nixon, it’s as if I’m looking at today’s HDZ members who want to spoil their great leader. This series superbly shows how the entire system is arranged to protect the elites, because we are witnesses that Watergate was only an aberration, an exception to the rule, and that something similar that would lead to the downfall of the most powerful did not happen again. With this series, it is a bit clearer to us how sloppiness, undercapacity, a sense of omnipotence and hypocrisy led to the well-known scandal, but also in what way power is so easily usurped in politics with the sole aim of keeping that same power as long as possible. One of the qualities of the series is that complex characters are built from the main protagonists, who will eventually become clear that everything they believed in is an illusion and a lie, and as is usually the case, only the secondary players will suffer the most.