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The First Lady: Everything We Know About Showtime’s Upcoming Anthology Series

By Chloe Foussianes and Meg Donohue
February 18, 2022

An exciting new anthology series is in the works at Showtime. The First Lady promises to explore the unique role, focusing in on how Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt have made it their own. Below, everything we know about the show so far.

The first trailer is here.

On February 17, two months before the premiere date, Showtime dropped the official trailer for The First Lady.

The show is described as a “revelatory reframing of American leadership through the lens of the First Ladies.” Focusing on three first ladies—Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson)—The First Lady will explore their journeys in the nation’s capital, their family life, and their impact on politics.

A-list actors have signed on.

Viola Davis was the first to sign on to the project, and is slated to play Michelle Obama. Michelle Pfeiffer was later tapped to play Betty Ford, and Gillian Anderson was cast as Eleanor Roosevelt.

“I feel very protective of Michelle,” says Davis, who spoke with Obamabefore signing on to The First Lady. “It’s our job as actors not to judge whoever we are portraying, but I ended up thinking she’s just dope.”

Kiefer Sutherland (The Fugitive, Stand By Me) will play Franklin Delano Roosevelt, per Vulture. Barack Obama will be portrayed by O.T. Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale, Black Widow). Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) takes on the role of Gerald Ford, and Dakota Fanning will play Susan Elizabeth Ford.

Additional cast members include Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) as Lorena “Hick” Hickock, one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s close confidantes. By 1932, Hickock was the nation’s most famous woman journalist, per TVLine. Kristine Froseth (Looking for Alaska, The Society) will play a young Betty Ford during her time training as a dancer with Martha Graham, according to Variety. Jayme Lawson (The Batman) will play Michelle Obama from ages 15 to 30. Australian actor Rhys Wakefield (True Detective, The Purge) plays Dick Cheney, who served as Chief of Staff during Ford’s presidency.

The series also recently found its Malia Obama. Per Variety, the eldest Obama daughter will be played by Lexi Underwood, whom viewers might recognize from the hit series Little Fires Everywhere.

An acclaimed director will helm every episode.

Susanne Bier, known for her work on The Night Manager and The Undoing, will direct the entire series. “Susanne is a visionary director who commands the screen with fierce honesty and a singular visual style,” said Amy Israel, executive vice president of scripted programming at Showtime, per Entertainment Weekly. She’s particularly enthused about the combination of Davis, Pfeiffer, and Bier. “With these formidable artists in front of and behind the camera, we couldn’t be more thrilled — especially at this unique moment in time for our nation — about the powerful promise of The First Lady.”

Bier will work with series creator Aaron Cooley, who is embarking on his first project as a showrunner.

The show premieres Sunday, April 17.

The First Lady will premiere on Sunday, April 17 on Showtime.