Showtime’s The First Lady hits most of its marks. However, relying solely on great actors doesn’t always make great television.
The trio of leading stars Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson carry this series on their shoulders. Literally. The Showtime miniseries manages to make life as a White House wife seem both cosmic and forgettable.
In fact, it’s a compelling series that grounds prominent historical figures using raw emotions and struggles, The First Lady tackles important thematic issues and shares more about life before the presidency for Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt. All three were vastly different women living in quite different times, but common threads quickly emerge in this engrossing series.
However, while it’s certainly commendable that the show shines its light on the forgotten struggles of these three notable women, it’s almost a shame that the show chose to highlight first ladies whose stories have already been so vigorously told. In addition, if the show gets renewed, it’ll need to find a way to create compelling narratives for all its leads and be unafraid to get into the mess that is the White House.
This season was a bit too plain and afraid to say anything. While I certainly learned a lot about Roosevelt, and changed my mind about Betty Ford, the pivotal First Lady for me was Michelle Obama. Even if you don’t learn anything new about her time in the White House, we get a lot of background stories that explain the Obama’s insistance of healthcare and other things.
Should you watch it?
Even when the stories are compelling, it’s the cast and portrayals that draw you in and take hold. Yes, the series has its storytelling issues, but the outcome is better than I ever expected. I just hope they get a bigger budget if its ever renewed.