Thursday, June 2, 2022

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 5 “See Saw” (B+)

It really is trippy to watch this show right after “Gaslit” each week, and to have all the Watergate content from that show summed up in just a moment as Ford made the questionable decision to go on TV and pardon Nixon, something that threatened to tie his presidency to Nixon’s wrongdoings even though they were completely unrelated. It’s interesting to imagine whether private conversations actually happened like this, and I prefer to focus on the events that are documented and the impact they have. Betty being encouraged to have a mammogram for the first time is among the most notable moments of her time as first lady, and I particularly appreciated her response to Aya Cash’s Shirley Liebowitz, who was coaching her to say everything was fine when that evidently wasn’t the case. Eleanor had an uphill battle to enable her to speak with women about issues that mattered, and after her women-only press conference idea was rejected, she cleverly got around that obstacle by passing around a recipe as a way of starting a conversation about something else entirely. In an era that wasn’t quite as oppressive, Michelle still had her battles to fight, namely with Rahm, who constantly thought that he knew better and only when he was ready to leave to pursue his next political ambitions took the time to acknowledge Michelle’s value and her sensibilities in reaching out to lawmakers to start off on a good note. Susan’s line that even Republicans have kids, as far as she’s heard, was layered and surely indicative of an even more increased ideological divide these days that finds few points of common ground.

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