On Film

Must Watch: Kerry Washington in the Anita Hill Story

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HBO’s content has been a little warmed over these last couple of years, as competition with new networks has made HBO’s series seem a little less compelling. But HBO still dominates the TV movies and miniseries category, where they have produced such gems as Angels in America, Grey Gardens, Game Change, Behind the Candelabra and Too Big To Fail.

Now we have our first look at Kerry Washington as Anita Hill. Those of you too young to remember Hill’s testimony before Congress will get a much needed history lesson in the tumultuous, scandalous, controversial story.

Anita Hill was (and is) a respected law professor who blew the whistle on the years of sexual harassment she experienced at the hands of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas while both worked for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (sexual harassment can happen anywhere). The responses to Hill ran the gamut from “she’s a witch, burn her!” to “maybe she’s telling the truth.” But prevailing view in 1991 was that Hill was a jilted single gal who had an unhealthy obsession with a powerful man, so she made up stories to stop his confirmation to the Supreme Court. Less than 24 percent of Americans believed Hill at the time, despite corroborating evidence and other women who testified that he did it to them, too.

But since 1991, the tide has turned. David Brock, one of Hill’s fiercest critics, had described her as “a little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty.” Brock’s book tried to destroy Hill and the reputations of others who came out against Thomas. In 2001 Brock recanted his takedown of Hill and admitted knowingly publishing lies.

Hill’s stature in the legal world has grown steadily over the last two decades. Meanwhile, so many of Thomas’ activities during that time – from performing Rush Limbaugh’s 3rd of 4 weddings to going 8 years without speaking during oral argument – seem like fruit grown from the seeds sown during those 1991 hearings. We’re looking forward to seeing what Washington and Wendell Pierce (The Wire) do with this story next year. Jennifer Hudson, Cobie Smulders, Erika Christensen, Eric Stonestreet, Grace Gummer, Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Dylan Baker and Alison Wright round out the cast of Confirmation.

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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