The story of how botched espionage overthrew Richard Nixon’s presidency and yielded books, documentaries, series, and films that confirm the timeless fascination of Americans with the subject. Not for nothing, the story is so absurd that it was initially retold in a drama format (All the President’s Men), then from the perspective of people involved with the story (Gaslit), but, over time, what was strange and confused came to be seen as bizarre and even grotesque, comic no doubt. How did an American president trust such unqualified men for a simple wiretap and lose his mandate? Perhaps trying to answer correctly ironically, the excellent White House Plumbers is one of the best versions of the story.
The HBO series is branded from end to end: from the same team as Veep and with an all-star cast led by Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux as the inept E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy. Anyone who saw Lionsgateplus’s Gaslit, which starred Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, and focused on Margaret Mitchell, was already completely astounded by the gross mistakes of the two men responsible for the venture. With text by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who have made us laugh for years with the award-winning HBO series about Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis Dreyfus) these two seem more like two characters from the imagination of the team, but, as they point out in the credits, they are super real!
Yes, people, even though a lot is being “augmented” for narrative, 90% of what is being told is pure truth. And the funniest and smartest part of HBO’s production is to humanize them, taking us into the duo’s family life, with their personal stories and motivation. It’s hard to decide who is better – Woody or Justin – but I go with the wonderful Lena Headey, in the role of Dorothy Hunt. After years of making us cry and hate her as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, she is deliriously perfect and fun in the double with Woody Harrelson.
For those who don’t remember or don’t know the story that happened more than 50 years ago, aides to President Nixon hired a team of spies to break into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Office Building in Washington DC to put bugs in the room and help to guarantee a victory in the reelection campaign of the republican candidate Richard Nixon, in 1972. They were caught, the investigations revealed the backstage of the presidency and finally, without credibility and under pressure, Nixon resigned from office. If he thought the stain on his legacy was the fact that he committed the crime, it got worse. It is now the butt of the inevitable jokes about it.
The performances, humor, and even more the absurdity of being a true story make the miniseries a great entertainment option. And if you want to know even more details, check out Gaslit (Lionsgate Plus) and All the President’s Men (HBO) as well. Politics, with distance, yields a very rich material for laughter.