Thursday, June 30, 2022

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 9 “Rift” (B+)

The structure of this episode did make some sense even if it was less strictly connected than previous installments. Each of the first ladies were in radically different stages of their time in office, with only Eleanor still married to a sitting president who wasn’t going anywhere for a while. Franklin turning to his wife to be the first one to address the nation after Pearl Harbor was a firm endorsement of her role in his life, a dramatic shift from his refusal to intervene on the behalf of the ship of Jews from Europe when she was pushing him to act. The happiness she got from being so widely praised and celebrated put her in a great mood, but unfortunately it resulted in Hick feeling abandoned and forgotten. No longer in the White House, Betty was not pleased with Susan for expressing concern with her behavior, and she reacted very angrily to the intervention that was staged to show her how worried everyone was. Her reluctant agreement to go to rehab started off shakily when she found out that she didn’t have her own room, but things seemed much better by the time she was introducing herself to the group with her new sponsor by her side. This show’s title does remain appropriate even after these women are no longer in the official position of first lady since they still retain that public persona. I have a feeling that the second season of this anthology series won’t be about Melania Trump given the admittedly relatable feeling of doom that was present as the Obama family watched the election returns in 2016. It’s unfortunately all too relevant and miserable given what has happened as a result of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees in just the last week alone, and it’s crazy to think how things could have been different if people had been more receptive to Hillary Clinton, who was not portrayed at all favorably here, as a candidate.

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