Showtime’s upcoming “The First Lady” anthology series is described as “a revelatory reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House.” While the first season focuses on icons Michelle Obama (played by Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), the executive producers are not opposed to a potential future season including possibly the most divisive first lady: Melania Trump.
During a virtual panel promoting the show at the Television Critics Association’s press tour Wednesday, “The First Lady” showrunner Cathy Schulman and director and executive producer Susanne Bier playfully tossed a reporter’s question about featuring President Donald Trump’s wife as subject before Bier answered definitively, but with a laugh: “Look, I do think that the series could do with a fun season — so let’s talk about that.”
Star Anderson, who was sitting on the panel alongside co-star Davis, added: “I think the hope is that there’s going to be future seasons and there will be the opportunity to have many, many more first ladies represented. So maybe not just four — but maybe 104.”
But Bier says that no matter how many seasons they do, she’d like to keep the number of first ladies to three per installment for a very specific reason.
“Three is a great number for a season because you can do in-depth contrasts, but it’s also incredibly interesting how the three ladies reflect upon each other,” Bier said. “And that’s why it’s a fantastic number. So whatever three ladies it’s going to be next season, I still think that three is the right way of doing it.”
Schulman said that one of Ford, Obama and Roosevelt’s biggest shared traits was that “none of them wanted to be there.”
“Eleanor wanted to be there, but only if she could be president, she didn’t want to be there as first lady,” she said. “And Betty went into the White House kicking and screaming. And Michelle was absolutely terrified for the lives of herself and her family. And finding that living in that house turned out to be a benefit to themselves, to their families, to their country, ultimately, was a really interesting unifier.”
Per Showtime, the 10-episode first season of “The First Lady” will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of the three unique, enigmatic women and their families, tracing their journeys to Washington, dipping into their pasts and following them beyond the White House into their greatest moments.
“The First Lady” premieres on Showtime April 17.