Review | The First Lady Season 1 – A waste of cast and characters

Surely you’ve heard the phrase “behind a great man, there’s always a great woman”, and it is on this principle that the miniseries is based. The First Ladygives Paramount +.

Telling behind the scenes of the White House through the eyes of three former US first ladies, the 10 episodes show how they stood out, each in their own way, and defied the mores of their time. Eleanor Roosevelt is lived by Gillian Andersonalready Betty Ford is played by the veteran Michelle PfeifferWhile Viola Davis bring Michelle Obama to the screens, in a work that mixes reality with fiction.

The work is competent in developing the desire for female independence through strong figures, opening up patriarchy and society’s tendency to remember history through the masculine optimum.

unremarkable performances

And that’s why, at first, the proposal is great and the series generated expectations in the public before the launch, but unfortunately, the success was only in theory. In practice, we were presented with shallow and caricatured interpretations, especially with regard to Davis’ work and his “beaks” – which clearly did not work and did not please the critics.

Anderson brings yet another historical figure to her portfolio, which makes me desperately want to see her without dentures and in contemporary clothing. While we were stunned by her performance in The Crown, we can’t say the same this time, but not so much because of his work, but because of finding another Eleanor Roosevelt story. She’s tired, right, people? Among the trio, the most interesting character is Pfeiffer who is rarely seen in the audiovisual, and among them, she can even be considered the most controversial. Michelle is also the least cartoonish, which generates curiosity in the viewer.

shallow narrative

As the story is divided between the three, the narrative arcs are worked on superficially. I believe that here the ideal would be separate miniseries for each one, so they could have been more explored and the stories deeper. On the other hand, it’s quite interesting to see some events of their lives side by side and realize that since 1933 things haven’t changed that much.

Aaron Cooley, the creator of the series, had characters with great potential in his hands: Eleanor was a visionary, in the closet in more ways than one. Betty, on the other hand, sought to take the administration to a more modern and realistic era, before the Reagan era and its far-right actions. And Michelle, as we well know, had the difficult mission of representing and showing the African American community that “yes, we can”. It justly shows that “The First Ladies and their staff are often the vanguard of social progress in this country,” as Ford said in a letter to Barack’s wife.

Despite being a fan of icon Michelle Obama in particular, the series directed by Susanne Bier (Bird Box) should learn from Peter Morgan (The Crown) about not showing recent themes. For him, at least 20 years are needed, at least, for us to understand the historical developments and, then, to adapt them. Thus, we would have a margin between the true facts and the fictional. Thus, the core of the Obamas is the most difficult and complicated of the work, as it is the most recent and fresh in the spectators’ memory.

Unfortunately, The First Lady does not deliver what it promises and proves to be another production that will fall by the wayside.

The First Lady (USA, 2022)

Creator: Aaron Cooley
Road map: Aaron Cooley, Ellen Fairey, Abby Ajayi, Nikole Beckwith, Cathy Schulman, Alyson Feltes, Azia Squire, Zora Bikangaga, Jennifer Westfeldt, Hunt Baldwin, Nicole Jefferson Asher and Yolonda Lawrence
Direction: Susanne Bier
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gillian Anderson, OT Fagbenle, Kiefer Sutherland, Aaron Eckhart Clea DuVall, Kate Mulgrew, Ellen Burstyn, Judy Greer, Dakota Fanning, Lily Rabe, Regina Taylor, Kristine Froseth, Eliza Scanlen and Jayme Lawson
Genre: Drama
Issuer: Paramount+
Episodes: 10
Duration: 55–57 minutes

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