Gaslit is an American political thriller television limited series based on the first season of the podcast Slow Burn by Leon Neyfakh. It stars Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham, and Darby Camp. It premiered on Starz on April 24, 2022.
Gaslit begins in early 1972 and follows the story of the Watergate scandal through the lives of several individuals on its periphery. Nixon, for example, is rarely seen, while the main protagonist is Martha Mitchell—known as "The Mouth from the South" due to her propensity for talking to the press, often at inopportune times for her husband, John. He opens the series as Nixon's Attorney General. She is aware that her behavior makes her unpopular with the government and her husband, on one occasion telling the latter "get another wife if you want a silent one". Seen as a liability by both, she eventually blows the whistle on Nixon's knowledge of the activities of his staffer.
Other perspectives come from the burglary's coordinator, G. Gordon Liddy, who leads a gang of ex-FBI agents and Cuban exiles. He is also presented as a Nazi sympathizer—"an Apocalypse Now-style menace, a sage spouting nonsense who likes to hold his hand over a burning flame"—who presents the White House with a grand plan for the wholesale infiltration of the Democratic Party. John Dean, White House Counsel, is at first pleased to be chosen by the President himself for his position, but becomes increasingly unnerved at the extent of the administration's involvement in criminality until he realizes he is being set up as a fall guy. His personal life is also complicated by his engagement and subsequent marriage to a woman described as a "leftie" in the review by The Independent. The Daily Telegraph summarizes Gaslit as focusing "on the Watergate characters who were right at the center of the scandal but who have faded from public memory"; similarly, The Hollywood Reporter identifies the series as refocusing the events of 1972–1975 away from the white men in positions of political power to white wives, a black security guard, and Italian and Hispanic FBI field agents.
Gaslit is a political thriller based on the first season of the Slate podcast Slow Burn. The series from Universal Content Productions was announced in February 2020, with Sam Esmail attached to executive produce and Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Armie Hammer and Joel Edgerton joining the cast. Edgerton was also set to direct the series along with his brother Nash Edgerton. Hammer would exit the series due to scheduling conflicts in January 2021. In February, the series was picked up by Starz, while both Edgerton brothers also exited the series. Matt Ross joined as the new director. Dan Stevens would be cast to replace Hammer in April, with Betty Gilpin, Darby Camp and Shea Whigham joining in May and Whigham replacing Edgerton.
Filming began that same month in Los Angeles, California. In July 2021, Allison Tolman, J.C. Mackenzie, Chris Bauer, Chris Messina and Hamish Linklater joined the cast in recurring roles. Penn had refused to return to the series until all cast and crew on the production had the COVID-19 vaccine. In September, the studio and Penn reached a compromise where Penn would film his scenes in two weeks with a vaccinated production crew. Fourteen cast members were confirmed for recurring roles in October. On February 2, 2022, the series was given an April 24, 2022 premiere date. In an interview, Pickering said the series was not a "girlboss overcorrect of history" or a "Wikipedia run down" but that their goal was to accurately depict the historical events. "Anyone can go and read a book about this or the Wikipedia entry," Stevens said, "but there are human stories that illustrate the depth."
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of 42 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.40/10. The website's consensus reads: "Fronted by a nervy Julia Roberts, Gaslit is less a slow burn than an acting extravaganza of big personalities enmeshed in historic scandal." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 71 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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