Last year, writer/director Doron Max Hagay created a webseries based on an article that appeared in New York Magazine titled Monica Takes Manhattan, which provided an update on the life of Monica Lewinsky after her move to NYC; a move away from the tumultuous reality of reporters, judgements and preconceived notions, a move forward with intentions of sculpting a new life out of the aftermath of a scandal that affected every aspect of her life.
All 6 parts of the webseries can be streamed here for free: Monica the Miniseries
Hagay’s comedic webseries, first appearing as a six-part affair, has now been condensed into a long-form short film or a short-form feature (depending on which way you want to look at it). A slight twinge of trepidation might be present going into a comedic film based around Monica Lewinsky and her life after the sex scandal, trepidation stemming from the thought of low-hanging-fruit quips and jabs at the expense of Ms. Lewinsky or the details surrounding the scandal that unfortunately defined her for a time.
Fortunately, that is not the path Hagay chooses, instead he chooses to present the 27-year-old Monica Lewinsky (wonderfully portrayed with equal parts vulnerability and strength by Lily Marotta) as a normal woman trying her best to move past the headlines through therapeutic yoga, handbag designing, and producing a Q & A with the help of HBO in an attempt to reclaim her identity through a cathartic release of truth now that the immunity agreement has been resolved (a documentary that did air on HBO titled Monica in Black & White which Hagay describes as being a huge catalyst for the project). Hagay and co-writer Marotta exhibit great care and consideration in how they portray Lewinsky, never settling her into the position of being the butt of a joke.
Obviously, this built-up expectation is more a fault of mine than Hagay’s, originating from the onslaught of zings and quips that saturated that particular time period; plus, in other cases where comedians low on material would draw from that same well, well after relevance. And, because of this, the idea of Lewinsky and comedy elicit apprehension from me but Hagay and Marotta quickly diminish those thoughts; most of the film’s humor resides in the discussions with her friends and acquaintances surrounding her plans for the future with strong comedic turns from Jacqueline Novak and Cole Escola (even John Early stealing some Edible Arraignment bits during the credits).
Soon, Doron Max Hagay is back with Chapter Two of Monica the miniseries, picking up where Chapter One left off after the fruition of her HBO documentary while also exploring her past, more specifically back in 1998 to the day when she was first approached by the FBI. New episodes are in post-production with streaming availability set for this spring.
Also returning from the first season cast is Jacqueline Novak, Cole Escola and John Early along with the entirety of the crew responsible for the first season. Additions to the cast include Tom McCaffrey, Chris Jurek, Jena Friedman, Amber Nelson, Ben Kronberg and Tallie Medel.