Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Viola Davis portrays Michelle Obama in the new Showtime series “The First Lady,” a series of 10 episodes revisiting the life of Michelle Obama and her position as the president’s wife. The show also included stories from the lives of Eleanor Roosevelt, played by Gillian Anderson, and Betty Ford, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
The series alternates between the different periods when these women were first ladies. The show depicts how each of them fought to prove their place in the White House. These women were able to use their voices to show how their proactive roles in the White House influenced social activism.
The show premiered on April 17, and the internet can’t stop talking about how Davis is portraying Michelle. Particularly in one scene, when she is talking to her husband Barack Obama, who is played by O-T Fagbenie. In the scene, her lips are pursed the entire time she is talking to him in an exaggerated form. It is hard to find at least one scene with Viola Davis not pursing her lips.
In multiple tweets, people are criticizing the excessive mimicking. Some stated opinions such as “I never thought I would see the day where Viola Davis gave a bad performance.”
Davis is terrified of the opinion that matters most: Michelle’s. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she expressed if she might’ve taken the role too seriously.
“There’s a lot of fear that I messed up my portrayal of Michelle Obama,” she said. “I gotta make my sister look good. I just hope that it lands with her.”
Before filming, Davis said she studied Michelle’s speech patterns and consulted her about what she should and shouldn’t do to prepare for filming. She has read her memoir and watched many interviews and her podcast to make sure Michelle is portrayed in a positive light.
One thing Michelle shared with Davis is to make sure she isn’t portrayed as an “angry Black woman.”
Being the first African American first lady, Michelle received all types of discriminatory hate during her time in office with Barack.
Perceived as angry, less feminine looking and not “first lady material,” Michelle’s every move was looked at and scrutinized by people who didn’t support a Black family in the White House. They look for anything to justify the Obamas weren’t fit to be there.
With the first episode of “The First Lady” already premiered, Michelle has not yet spoken out about her take on the series.
The hope for this series is that viewers can see closely what the first ladies of the United States have to go through such as the pressure, commitment and sacrifices they make to fulfill the role of being the first lady.