Culture / TV

A new series will tell the story of those on the periphery of the Watergate scandal

A new series in the pipeline will use season one of podcast Slowburn as a launching pad to paint a modern picture of the infamous Watergate scandal. Titled Gaslit, the limited series has narrowed its focus on certain public figures central to the retelling of this moment in history, namely Martha Mitchell an Arkansan socialite and her husband, John Mitchell, the US attorney general under Richard Nixon.

Played by Julia Roberts and Sean Penn respectively, Martha is credited as the first person to publicly sound the alarm on Nixon's involvement in Watergate. When her husband tried to hinder her from the learning the details of Watergate, the story goes Martha became deeply suspicious and attempted to alert the press. Known in Washington as a 'loud mouth' and 'gossip' this image was used to discredit and silence Martha, and she was allegedly held captive and physically punished as a result of her whistleblowing.

When the truth of Watergate came to light, John and Martha would eventually separate and he would be jailed for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. In an interview with David Frost in 1977, Nixon would also famously say, “If it hadn’t been for Martha, there’d have been no Watergate".

In the trailer, Julia Roberts appears wearing a giant bouffant, clip-on earrings, cat eye sunglasses and all the trimmings of a Southern born high-society woman. Sean Penn is near unrecognisable as her ruthless, cigarette-smoking husband. And as the trailer unravels, so does Martha; her self-assured sheen breaking under government surveillance and paranoia.

Drawing on our current fascination with the term gaslightingGaslit is another series working to vindicate women in history whose reputations were unjustly damaged or wronged.

Gaslit will premiere in Australia exclusively on Stan on April 24 — the same day as its release in the US.

Watch the trailer to Gaslit, below.

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