On Monday, Paramount+ takes us behind the doors of the White House with The First Lady.
When your husband is the leader of the most famous house in the world, what role do you play? That is the question poised at the beginning of The First Lady.
The series opens with artist Amy Sherald (Tiffany Denise Hobbs) painting Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), having wanted to paint her for her first portrait rather than the 44th President, Barack Obama (O.T. Fagbenle): “Well, the thing is, the president, even a black president, is the institution and she’s interested in the real.”
It’s an interesting starting point as we quickly discover this isn’t just a drama about the Obamas, but a look at three of the most iconic First Ladies.
Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), wife of 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Kiefer Sutherland), navigates many life-changing illnesses, the Great Depression and the Second World War during his term in office.
Meanwhile Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), wife of 38th President Gerald Ford (Aaron Eckhart), humanises her relatability by talking quiet opening about her visiting a psychiatrist.
And back with the Obama family, we see Michelle deal with racial issues and wanting a better healthcare system for most Americans.
Creator Aaron Cooley tackles all three icons in each one hour episode provided for review. It’s a method that provides mixed results for me as we jump back and forth one lady to the next, each having their own problems as we see what shaped the icons.
The cast is superb with all three leading ladies commanding the screen, with Pfeiffer the standout from the first three episodes.
It’s not perfect, but The First Lady offers up an interesting drama, but maybe it shouldn’t have tried to do it all at once.
The First Lady premieres Monday April 18 on Paramount+ with new episodes dropping weekly.