Politicians behaving badly. Marriages unraveling in the public eye. Allegations of the rich and powerful taking advantage of their privilege.

In the new series Anatomy of a Scandal, streaming now on Netflix, a rising-star politician named James Whitehouse (played by Rupert Friend) finds his seemingly perfect life upended

Anatomy of a Scandal is based on a book, not real life. Mostly. The book on which the series is based is by Sarah Vaughn,” Gibson says. “She went to Oxford and while she’s said

the story isn’t based on anyone in particular, it’s certainly based on a milieu—and we tried to take that and run with it.”

If the characters feel familiar, that’s the point. James Whitehouse is not a real person. Unfortunately, neither is his wife Sophie, played deliciously by Sienna Miller.

Nor is Michelle Dockery’s tough-as-nails lawyer, Kate Woodcroft, or anyone else who appears on the Anatomy of a Scandal screen.

“The common denominator of the people who try to get away with things like this is that they think the rules—personally or professionally—don’t apply to them.”

Which isn’t to say the real world is ignored entirely. Sarah Vaughn’s novel might have been a great jumping-off point to create Scandal—“It was fantastic storytelling,”

In the end, what’s real or not might not matter. Whether James Whitehouse is entirely made up or sprinkled here and there with aspects of real-life British politicians is almost beside the point

when you consider what Anatomy of a Scandalreally hopes to do. “It’s great, binge-worthy TV, but also it hopefully leaves you thinking,” says Clarkson.

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