A new series in the works will use the first season of the podcast Slow burning as a launching pad to paint a modern picture of the infamous Watergate scandal. Title gas lit, the limited series focused on certain public figures central to the narrative of this moment in history, namely Martha Mitchell, an Arkansan socialite and her husband, John Mitchell, the United States Attorney General under Richard Nixon .
Played by Julia Roberts and Sean Penn respectively, Martha is considered the first person to publicly raise the alarm about Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. When her husband tried to prevent her from learning the details of Watergate, the story goes that Martha became deeply suspicious and attempted to alert the press. Known in Washington as a “loudmouth” and “gossip-picker,” this image was used to discredit and silence Martha, and she was reportedly held captive and physically punished following her whistleblowing.
When the truth about Watergate was revealed, John and Martha would eventually separate and he would be imprisoned for perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. In a 1977 interview with David Frost, Nixon also reportedly said, “If it hadn’t been for Martha, there wouldn’t have been Watergate.”
In the trailer, Julia Roberts appears dressed in a giant bouffant, clip-on earrings, cat-eye sunglasses, and all the trimmings of a Southern-born upper class woman. Sean Penn is almost unrecognizable as her ruthless, cigarette-smoking husband. And as the trailer unfolds, so does Martha; its self-assured brilliance shattering under government surveillance and paranoia.
Building on our current fascination with the term gaslighting, Gas lighting is another series that works to defend women in history whose reputations have been unjustly damaged or harmed.
Gas lighting will premiere in Australia exclusively on Stan on April 24 – the same day as its US release.
Watch the trailer for gas lit, below.