No matter how the House of Representatives’ inquiry into President Trump plays out, FX hopes that “impeachment” is still a big buzzword exactly one year from today. That’s when the third season of American Crime Story—titled, that’s right, Impeachment—is set to debut.
But Season 3 of Ryan Murphy’s critically acclaimed anthology series has nothing to do with the current White House.
Instead, Impeachment: American Crime Story—premiering Sept. 27, 2020—will focus on the national scandal involving Monica Lewinsky and then-President Bill Clinton that led in 1998 to the country’s first impeachment in more than a century.
The series will be written by playwright Sarah Burgess and executive produced by the American Crime Story team, including Murphy, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. Its first installment, 2016’s The People v. O.J. Simpson, won nine Emmys; the 2018 follow-up, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, received seven.
When announcing the new season at Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in August—long before the House announced the start impeachment proceedings this week against Trump—FX Networks chairman John Landgraf said it “focuses on the events that led up to and through the Ken Starr special counsel investigation that resulted in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment votes in the House and Senate, as told through the point of view of the many women who were swept up the maelstrom.”
UPDATE: Murphy told The New York Times that he was “shocked” at initial backlash over the release date’s proximity to the 2020 election and said “we’ve not committed yet” to a release date, despite FX’s announcement in August.
Early this year, Landgraf said that Ryan Murphy and producers had “three or four ideas in active development, where we’ve acquired rights or done a fair amount of research.”
From that group, Impeachment was the one that emerged first.
“Honestly, I was surprised that one—based on the material that Sarah Burgess wrote—was the one that leaped into the fore,” Landgraf told Adweek, adding that he “hopes” some of the other seasons in development will be ready to move forward soon.
“The material for this show is a really high bar,” said Landgraf. “I would be thrilled if we could stack three seasons in a row up. There’s a lot of things that I’m really excited about in development, so I don’t think that’s impossible.”
However, Landgraf would rather err on the side of caution, after prematurely announcing not one but two iterations of an American Crime Story season that would have focused on 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The first would have featured Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick, and the second would have starred Sarah Paulson, but both were ultimately scrapped.
“There’s a lot of times where we’ve missed the mark and we’ve said, ‘We could make a cycle, but…,’” said Landgraf. “The minute we make a cycle that’s not as good as the previous ones, in some ways we’ve tarnished their legacy.”
That said, Landgraf agrees the fact that FX took the unusual step of announcing an air date more than a year in advance—and in the thick of the 2020 presidential election, no less—indicates the network’s confidence that Impeachment will measure up to both The People v. O.J. Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.