Showtime’s ‘The First Lady,’ Starring Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Is a One-Term Flop

Viola Davis in Michelle Obama in The First Lady. Showtime/Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Showtime/Mark Wilson/Getty Images

There will be no second term for Showtime’s The First Lady, which starred Viola Davis as Michelle Obama. The dramatic anthology series has been canceled after just one season following ridicule from viewers and widespread negative reviews.

The series also failed to pick up any major Emmy Award nominations, though it did receive a few nods in technical categories.

Showtime confirmed the cancellation in a statement sent to multiple outlets on Monday, saying the show “will not be moving forward with another season.”

The First Lady focused the wives of the presidents, with the plan to cover three administrations per season. The first season also starred Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt.

The show was the target of widespread negative reviews, with the New Yorker magazine calling it a “bad-wig costume drama” and Time magazine concluding that Davis and Anderson were “egregiously miscast.”

Many viewers also took issue with the Viola Davis’ decision to purse her lips in imitation of Michelle Obama, with some saying the affectation was exaggerated and distracting.

Davis responded by telling the BBC News that it is “incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work,” while also acknowledging that negative criticism is “occupational hazard” of acting.

“How do you move on from the hurt, from failure?” Davis said. “But you have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.”

The show’s producers said earlier this year that  potential future seasons could focus on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Hillary Clinton, and Melania Trump.

We will never know what those future seasons will look like. But we’ll always have this:


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