Hillary: Inspiring, unfiltered and emotional – 3 reasons to watch the Clinton documentary

Four years on from her failed Presidential bid, Hillary Clinton’s incredible life story comes under the microscope in this engrossing Sky Documentaries series.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 19 June 2020 - 3.37pm
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History documentaries

Watch Hillary on Sky Documentaries with NOW TV

From the moment the opening credits to Hillary begin with the pop-punk track Take Back The Power by The Interrupters, Nanette Burstein’s documentary makes clear that this isn’t going to be a self-pitying or bitter study of former First Lady, US Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

“What’s your plan for tomorrow, Are you a leader or will you follow, Are you a fighter or will you cower,” goes the song. It’s an up-and-at-them message that encapsulates the spirit of Clinton, which is captured in this intimate four-hour series.

Burstein brings out a side of Clinton rarely seen on the campaign trail or in her many lengthy TV interviews down the years. Because the sometimes controversial Clinton is allowed time to loosen up and lower her guard, you are left feeling like you’re finally seeing the real deal.

Rather than the woman who has spent so much of her career battling against sexism, fierce political rivals and ridiculous conspiracies, this feels like a glimpse at the real Hillary: the one beneath the breathtaking legal talent, tireless campaigning, and the true character behind the brave face built up to protect her over the decades of abuse, intrusion and misogyny.

Full of laughter, joy, heartache and frustration, Hillary is a must-watch, regardless of where you stand on her politically and personally.

Here are three reasons to watch political documentary series Hillary...

Unseen Hillary

A black and white archive photo of Hillary and Bill Clinton The Clinton Library

The series follows two timelines, criss-crossing between the early years of Hillary Rodham, Yale Law School superstar and her young romance with Bill Clinton, and her doomed 2016 bid for the presidency and battles with Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and eventual victor Donald Trump.

Although the recent political battles are probably the most eye-catching for viewers, it’s the archive footage and delving into Hillary’s early years that is the most illuminating part of the series.

Footage of her impromptu college commencement speech, where she breaks from her script to respond to earlier speaker, Republican Edward Brooke, is jaw-dropping.

Her speech got picked up in Life magazine and was her first brush with the spotlight, as she showed a coolness, beautiful articulacy and burning passion.

It’s just one of numerous instances that highlight how bright Clinton’s political star burned in her early years. And many viewers will be left wondering what might have been if she hadn’t been left to play second fiddle to husband Bill and passed over by America for Trump.

A new perspective on 2016

Hillary on the campaign trail in 2016 The Clinton Library

It’s hard to believe four years on that we came mighty close to getting a female President of the United States. It’s almost impossible to imagine how different the world might be if America had elected Democrat Clinton rather than Republican Trump, but this series doesn’t really dwell on what-might-have-beens or if-onlys.

There isn’t any bitterness or "Told you so’s" from Clinton, even if some might argue she’d be well within her rights to take that attitude.

Instead, the documentary uses the beauty of hindsight and unprecedented access to Clinton’s campaigning team to examine what they got wrong and why it proved so hard to win over the American public.

Clinton and her team show a refreshing amount of honesty on her weaknesses. She is  an awesome political mind, but not the greatest political performer. Her knowledge and eye for detail couldn’t be beaten, but getting bogged down in the nitty gritty often weakened her message.

The series also dives into defining moments of the campaign, such as the infamous emails ‘scandal’, and pierces the bubble of hysteria that surrounded them.

And most importantly, it shines a light on the myths, the conspiracies and the caricature of Clinton that was constructed over time by parts of the media and which she could never, ever shake off.

The sexism

Hillary Clinton meets a young girl The Clinton Library

If viewers only take away one thing from Hillary it should be the embarrassment and shame in the way the media, the public and politics still treats women.

“Do you think anyone talked to Bernie Sanders about his goddamn shoes?” Clinton asks, when she’s questioned about her attire by a member of her team.

She estimates that she spent one-and-a-half hours a day in hair and make-up for her 600-day campaign. And ultimately, even with all that effort, Hillary could never win.

Too progressive for some, too conservative for others. Not charismatic enough according to one group, but too bold and wacky in the minds of another.

Clinton battled prejudice throughout her education, her career and during the glare of the Lewinsky scandal, which prepared her emotionally to deal with the unfair treatment as a presidential candidate.

But, as this documentary flags, there are still lots of big battles to be won for feminism in the world of politics.

Watch Hillary on Sky Documentaries with the NOW TV Entertainment Pass.