Superfans of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton still can hardly bring themselves to believe she lost the 2016 election. Now, they won’t even be able to watch an alternate-universe streaming series in which she won the race and became president.
According to Variety, Hulu has passed on an adaptation of “Rodham,” a 2020 novel by Curtis Sittenfeld in which Hillary never married Bill Clinton and became president anyway.
The streaming service had previously aired a hagiographical documentary series about the former first lady, secretary of state and two-time presidential loser titled “Hillary.”
The adaptation had been in development for the streaming platform for two years, just months after the book was published. It’s the latest example of the media fawning over Clinton despite the fact most of the rest of America doesn’t like her.
According to Variety’s report Friday, “20th Television is still is shopping the project to other streamers, now that Claire Danes and Dakota Fanning are attached to play Clinton at different stages of her life.”
The project is being adapted by writer-executive producer Sarah Treem, with James Ponsoldt scheduled to direct, should it find a new home.
“‘Rodham’ — published in May 2020, and a New York Times bestseller — imagined an alternative universe in which Hillary Rodham Clinton met and dated Bill Clinton at Yale Law School, but never married him,” Variety noted.
“Instead of the life Clinton has actually led, in ‘Rodham,’ she goes on to thrive as a Northwestern University professor, and launches an eventual presidential run in 2016. Real-world events — such as rape accusations against Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump as a significant figure in politics — also play out in Sittenfeld’s novel, but in vastly altered ways.”
“Rodham” was the second novel Sittenfeld has written about a former first lady, although the first was a bit more stealthy about its subject: 2008’s “American Wife” revolved around a character named Alice Blackwell whose life bore a remarkable resemblance to that of Laura Bush.
I read that predictably condescending tome at the time, which was enough to dissuade me from pursuing any more of Sittenfeld’s oeuvre. According to a 2011 Deadline piece, that novel was also slated to undergo a film adaptation, although it never made it to the screen.
If you’re wondering why, perhaps you should consider the title of a 2016 New York Times interview from when the author was promoting “Eligible,” a modern update of “Pride and Prejudice”: “Curtis Sittenfeld Is No Jane Austen, but She’s O.K. With That.”
If one is to judge from “American Wife,” which was little more than lazy liberal-baiting, I can confirm both parts of that headline are aggressively true.
And yet, a fictional universe in which Hillary won the 2016 election led to more predictable media fawning over “Rodham.”
Sittenfeld isn’t exactly a fount of originality, something the author and the Times tacitly acknowledged during that 2016 interview. Sittenfeld’s four best-known works are “American Wife,” based on Laura Bush’s life; “Prep,” based on the author’s time studying and teaching at prestigious prep schools; “Eligible,” which aped Austen; and “Rodham,” which, as NPR noted, “approaches a close read or shadow text of Clinton’s memoir ‘Living History.’”
But despite noting the close similarities and the trite feminism of rewriting Hillary’s backstory to let her walk away from Bill Clinton and still win the 2016 presidential election, NPR’s Annalisa Quinn called it “a nauseating, moving, morally suggestive, technically brilliant book that made me think more than any other in recent memory about the aims and limits of fiction.”
The emphasis ought to have been on “limits,” namely its sell-by date.
When “Rodham” was published two years ago this month, it was the kind of alternate-reality tale many liberals were willing to wallow in: one in which President Rodham was sailing to a second term in office, presumably without the pandemic or one of Hillary’s ever-present scandals to worry about.
Instead, they were left with the Hobson’s choice of forgetful Uncle Joe Biden or a second Trump term.
Hillary worship, like so many secular religions, can be outgrown, however.
After all, the real-life subject of “Rodham” did marry Bill Clinton — and stuck by him through a presidency that saw allegations of rape and sexual misconduct lobbed at him. This became somewhat less fashionable during the #MeToo moment, when even liberal commentators began suddenly noting that, yes, those allegations were credible.
And then there’s the unavoidable fact that Hillary Clinton was a horrible, no good, terrible, unlikable, scandal-prone, very bad candidate who’d lost two races for the presidency in which she started off with far more resources and media support than anyone else on the ballot.
In 2016, this involved Clinton’s campaign spending $768 million against Trump’s $398 million, according to Washington Post numbers, and that gap rises when you consider what the parties and outside groups spent; the media treated her as a transcendent feminist while Trump was painted as a pro-wrestling villain.
While the fundraising numbers in the 2008 race eventually turned against Clinton and toward Barack Obama, Federal Election Commission filings showed her well ahead of Obama in cash on hand and fundraising at the end of 2007, when she was viewed as the more electable choice.
Perhaps an adaptation of Sittenfield’s novel eventually finds a home and viewers can watch an alternate reality where this infamous October 2016 tweet actually came to pass:
Happy birthday to this future president. pic.twitter.com/JT3HiBjYdj
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 26, 2016
To all of those Hillaristas still living in their alternate reality, however, count this as perhaps the biggest gut-punch yet: Even Hulu, the streaming service that aired the unctuous “Hillary” documentary series, isn’t interested in “Rodham.”
When Hollywood starts taking a pass on Hillary-flattering properties, it’s time to give up the ghost.
Story cited here.
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