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Showtime’s First Ladies Series to Tackle Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama


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Throughout American history, the role of First Lady, regardless of whether she was the wife of the President or a family member, has been a prominent figure in politics. First ladies have had the ability to impact policy, advocate for change, and also present an image of American womanhood to the world stage. Considering their lives of influence, it’s no surprise that a TV drama about the First Ladies would make for an intriguing project.

According to Variety, Showtime has ordered a first season of the hour-long drama First Ladies, and it has already announced that Oscar winner Viola Davis will star as former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“First Ladies” will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of First Ladies from throughout history, with season one focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama. The series, which hails from Showtime and Lionsgate Television, will turn it lens on the East Wing of the White House, as opposed to the West, where many of history’s most impactful and world changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies.

The choice of Roosevelt, Ford, and Obama is a strong start. All three are known for being very political, and often more radical than their husbands. Betty Ford is especially an interesting figure in history because of how public she was about her addiction issues and being vocally pro-choice despite her Republican husband President. Eleanor Roosevelt is still probably the woman who should have been in our first female President.

“Throughout our history, presidents’ spouses have wielded remarkable influence, not only on the nation’s leaders but on the country itself,” said Winograde in a statement. “First Ladies fits perfectly within the Showtime wheelhouse of drama and politics, revealing how much personal relationships impact both domestic and global events. Having Viola Davis play Michelle Obama is a dream come true, and we couldn’t be luckier to have her extraordinary talent to help launch this series.”

I do hope that if this series does well it will mean that we get to explore the older First Ladies, because a lot of them have left interesting and problematic footprints in our history. From the first two we can see that—there’s slave owner Martha Washington and proto-feminist Abigail Adams—and it would be fascinating to look at how many of these women were actually wealthier and more learned than their husbands. I’d be a little concerned about how the series might whitewash some of the more problematic aspects of the women, but as a history nerd, I’m willing to give it a chance.


(via Variety, image: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.