Saturday, July 2, 2022

What I’m Watching: The First Lady (Season Finale)

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 10 “Victory Dance” (B+)

It’s interesting to see how all three of these first ladies had a substantial impact after their husbands finished their terms in office, and given that this show has yet to be renewed, this might be the end of the entire series. Franklin dying during his fourth term was cause for national mourning, and the focus that this episode first was on how Lucy was there to say goodbye to him, something that Eleanor wasn’t happy Anna had encouraged. But ultimately it was Eleanor’s legacy as a stateswoman that enabled her to have an impact without her husband, with Robert Sean Leonard’s Truman coming to ask her to be involved with the new United Nations. After Betty was struggling with withdrawal and flashing back to formative - and painful - memories of drinking and her ballet training, she then was able to return from rehab with a new vision for the treatment center that she wanted to make to help others struggling with addiction. The post-Obama years were particularly potent because I’ve lived through them, as has anyone watching, and Malia best represented how many liberal Americans felt, desperate to do something and not simply endorse the ascension of someone like Donald Trump to the presidency. Michelle’s post-presidency work featured an unexpected reunion with her would-be college roommate, a moment that I don’t think actually happened like that but which was based on something she wrote about in her book. This series has been engaging enough but not exceptional, and I hope that a theoretical second season would be a bit more fast-paced and energizing.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford

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