Bombshell is about the alleged culture of sexual harassment at Fox News, headed by the now-late Roger Ailes (John Lithgow in the film.) Bombshell follows three women at the right-leaning news network: Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron, who looks scarily like the news host thanks to excellent makeup), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla (Margot Robbie), an amalgamation of other real women at Fox.
In the trailer, which is set to the tune of Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” — for, um, obvious reasons — all three are faced with various levels of sexual harassment. Kayla, specifically, is asked by Ailes to prove her “loyalty” in order to secure an on-air hosting position. By the look on her face, the audience knows what he is implying.
Ailes, who launched Fox News with Rupert Murdoch in 1996, was sued for sexual harassment by Carlson in July of 2016. Carlson alleged she was fired just weeks before filing the suit for repeatedly rejecting Ailes, whom she claimed made frequent inappropriate comments about her body. Ailes denied the allegations, but shortly after Carlson’s claim, more women — including Kelly, model Marsha Callahan, Former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle, and Fox News host Andrea Tantaros — came forward with stories of their own about the powerful man. (In the film, Robbie’s “Kayla” is a stand-in for the stories of many of these women.) Ailes resigned as Fox News CEO later in July and died in 2017 having denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
From the look of the trailer, Bombshell will approach not just the accusations against Ailes, but a culture of sexual harassment and sexism as a whole at the network. After Carlson’s accusations against Ailes go public, a woman hands out “Team Roger” shirts at the office — suggesting that Fox News intended to intimidate and silence women who went against management. Kelly is seen reacting to Donald Trump’s 2015 crude comments about her period — something she will have to discuss on Fox News, who was, and is, notoriously supportive of Trump. Carlson, meanwhile, is angry that she has to smile through repeated inappropriate comments from male co-hosts, including one in which a man referred to Carlson as a “skirt” on camera.
Bombshell is not the first piece of media about the Fox News drama. Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice stars Naomi Watts (Kidman’s real-life BFF) as Carlson. The women portraying Carlson were not allowed to contact her due to a non-disclosure agreement she signed as part of a lawsuit settlement. Still, with so much played out in the public sphere as is, Bombshell should be an eye-opening account of an allegedly toxic workplace.
Check out the trailer below:
Bombshell hits theaters December 2019.