Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller in 'Anatomy of a Scandal'
Source: Netflix

'Anatomy of a Scandal' Explores the Speedy Demise of a Politician — Is It Based on a True Story?

Leila Kozma - Author
By

Apr. 14 2022, Published 11:45 a.m. ET

Starring Josette Simon, Sienna Miller, and Michelle Dockery, Season 1 of Anatomy of a Scandal looks at the blasphemous tale of James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend), an Oxford-educated politician who receives public backlash after his aide and mistress, Olivia (Naomi Scott), accuses him of having committed rape. Directed by S.J. Clarkson, whose previous projects include Succession, Anatomy of a Scandal explores the scandal brought on by gross misconduct.

But is the Netflix series based on a true story?

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'Anatomy of a Scandal' dissects the backlash resulting from gross misconduct. Is it based on a true story?

Anatomy of a Scandal tells the tale of an enormously privileged politician who gets caught in the crosshairs after his aide publicly accuses him of rape. Comprising six episodes, Season 1 of the Netflix drama aims to provide an alternate depiction of the fenced-off world of James Whitehall.

Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller in 'Anatomy of a Scandal'
Source: Netflix

Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller in 'Anatomy of a Scandal'

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Anatomy of a Scandal is based on Sarah Vaughan's best-selling novel of the same name. An Oxford graduate, Sarah spent 11 years working for the Guardian. As she writes on her website, Anatomy of a Scandal was informed by her experiences as a journalist and courtroom correspondent who bore witness to the strange workings of political power.

Sarah Vaughan's novel 'Anatomy of a Scandal' looks at an act of misconduct from different points of view.

The best-selling book chronicles a much-publicized rape trial of a powerful politician who briefs his wife, Sophie (Sienna Miller), about the affair before it gets out. What James doesn't tell Sophie about is the alleged rape. Regardless, Sophie decides to stand by his side as his court trial for the offense unfolds.

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Naomi Scott in 'Anatomy of a Scandal'
Source: Netflix

Naomi Scott in 'Anatomy of a Scandal'

Written by David E. Kelley (the showrunner of Big Sky) and Melissa James Gibson (the executive producer of House of Cards), the Netflix adaptation offers a glimpse into the early days of Sophie and James' relationship to raise new questions about privilege and toxic masculinity. The series aims to cast light on how the women involved in the case change their perspective, highlighting how one's approach and ability to maintain composure change when under duress.

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"Sophie is someone who has never questioned the patriarchy," Sienna Miller, the actress portraying Sophie, described her character in an interview with Vogue, "She has put her faith and her life into the hands of a man, who, whatever his past may be, is a loving husband and a good father, at least on the surface. So, I felt intrigued about watching her – someone who is outwardly so perfect – slowly falling apart."

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"On some level, it made me understand what it must be like to come forward about any rape, and why so few people actually do it," Naomi Scott, the actress playing Olivia, told the outlet. "Olivia is bright and ambitious. She could be prime minister. And she has to put all of that at risk in order to stand in front of strangers assigned to judge the validity of her greatest trauma."

Anatomy of a Scandal is available on Netflix now.

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