Presumably much to Michelle Obama’s relief, Showtime is not moving forward with another season of “The First Lady,” which featured Viola Davis’ much-maligned performance as the beloved political figure.
Weeks after the season finale of the anthology series, which centered on the inner lives of famous presidential wives ― Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Michelle Obama (Davis) ― the network has officially pulled the plug on a second season.
“Showtime can confirm that the anthology series ‘The First Lady’ will not be moving forward with another season,” a network spokesperson told Deadline in a statement. “We would like to applaud the artistry and commitment of our showrunner Cathy Schulman, director Susanne Bier, their fellow executive producers, our amazing cast, led by executive producer Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson, and our studio partner Lionsgate for their dedicated work in telling the unique stories of three remarkable leaders.”
Ahead of the 10-episode series premiere, executive producers had been toying with potential future installments centered around Hillary Clinton, Melania Trump, Martha Washington and Rosalynn Carter, among other women who made their mark on the White House.
“I would be very intrigued to depict Hillary Clinton because I think that her position was so complicated… I think that would be incredibly interesting,” executive producer and director Susanne Bier said at the show’s TCA presentation in April.
“I think the hope is that there’s going to be future seasons so they’ll have the opportunity to have more first ladies represented,” Anderson added.
But “The First Lady” received a lukewarm critical reception.
Davis attracted the bulk of the negative attention for her portrayal of Obama, with many pointing to the actor’s distracting choice to frequently purse her lips in scenes, which quickly went viral, as well as her exaggerated facial expressions.
Obama has yet to publicly acknowledge the series, but Davis skewered the “incredibly hurtful” critics who disliked her performance.
“Critics absolutely serve no purpose,” Davis told the BBC in April. “And I’m not saying that to be nasty, either.”
“Either you’re doing too much or not enough,” she added, noting how portraying a modern political figure is an “almost impossible” challenge. “Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.”