COMING ATTRACTIONS

Michelle Obama Won’t Be “a Black Martha Stewart” in the First Lady Trailer

Viola Davis as Michelle Obama in the trailer for The First Lady
Courtesy of YouTube

It’s the day that Michelle Obama has been waiting for. On Thursday, Showtime dropped the first look at how Viola Davis portrays her in its upcoming anthology series The First Lady. Thanks to Davis, whom Obama considers “the greatest,” she’s one of the rare public figures who’s actually looking forward to seeing a big-screen adaptation of her personal life. “I feel that I'm not worthy,” Obama said when news of the casting broke last March. “I wish I could be better to live up to the character that Viola has to play, but it’s exciting.”

The trailer begins with Davis stretched out on the couch with her head in the lap of her husband Barack (played by O-T Fagbenle of Black Widow and The Handmaid’s Tale). “In four years, I don’t want to look back and think, What did I become living in that house?,” she says, staring directly into the camera. She isn’t the only First Lady who feels that way. The series also looks back on the Ford and Roosevelt administrations, meaning we get Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. The former is dealing with the alcoholism that led her to open a rehabilitation center in 1982, while the latter is maybe, maybe not falling for a reporter played by Lily Rabe. And just like Obama, they’re doing their best to prove that the First Lady isn’t just a sidepiece.

Obama clearly has the most independence, but it comes with a price. “They want to turn me into a Black Martha Stewart?,” she asks a group of White House staffers in what appears to be a very tense meeting. “I will pick my team, choose my causes. Understood?” She does so, of course, with flying colors, though at the cost of her family life. “I’m just terrified for my girls,” she says at one point, throwing her arms around Malia (Lexi Underwood of Little Fires Everywhere) and Sasha (Saniyya Sidney of King Richard). Let’s hope they hooked the real-life Obama up with some screeners, because the first episode doesn’t air until April 17.