It’s Martha, dubbed “the mouth of the South,” who provides the project’s title as well as its heart and soul, and gives Roberts a chance to essentially return to the “Steel Magnolias” territory. Known for her cozy relationship with reporters, Mitchell was kidnapped, held and drugged to prevent her from talking when the scandal broke, after which Nixon’s flunkies endeavored to make her look like a drunk and crazy woman (she’s shown being asked if she’s nuts on a talk show) in order to discredit her.
The renewed interest in Watergate comes after the Trump years, and various scandals that have drawn comparisons to what Nixon aides at the time euphemistically described as “simple intelligence gathering” and, as Liddy puts it, acquiring “opposition leverage.”
Adapted from the “Slow Burn” podcast, “Gaslit” evokes Watergate with all its messiness, reflecting how the president’s men went from willing accomplices in these schemes to investigative targets, faced with the choice between cooperating or going down with the ship.
At its foundation, “Gaslit” presents not just the politics of the 1970s but its cultural mores, evident in the casual misogyny at work in dismissing Martha’s claims as the ravings of a socialite wife. In doing so it captures a time when there were snakes all around, and how far they’d go to save their own skins.
“Gaslit” premieres April 24 at 8 pm ET on Starz.