Of Course Viola Davis Was Cast As Michele Obama In Showtime's New Series

by Ani Bundel
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Prestige TV loves to peel back the curtains and dramatize history. From shows like Chernobyl on HBO to The Crown on Netflix, the way to a Golden Globe-winning series is the biopic, where actors and actresses dig deep into figures from the last 100 years, and what makes them tick. So far, most of these shows stick to historical events from outside the U.S. But with First Ladies, Showtime is tackling American figures, some of whom, like Queen Elizabeth II, still alive. For instance, Viola Davis will play Michelle Obama in the upcoming series, as the show's first season dives into the Obama White House.

First Ladies has been bubbling in the development stage since last summer when Davis was first attached to the project. With How To Get Away With Murder coming to an end in May of 2020, it makes sense for Davis to look to trade in the acronym HTGAWM for one a little easier to pronounce: FLOTUS. Now Showtime has decided to pick up the series, putting Season 1 into full production, though there is no word of when the show will debut. Davis will also act as an executive producer.

What fans should know is that this is not a show devoted singly to Michelle O. The title, First Ladies, is plural for a reason. Though Obama will be the focus of part of the first season, the plan is to cover three different famous First Ladies who occupied the White House in the show's first outing. Along with Michelle Obama, Season 1 will focus on Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford. No actresses are attached to the roles as of yet.


First Ladies is described by TVLine as "pull[ing] back the curtain on the personal and political lives of multiple enigmatic women who have served as First Lady throughout American history." The synopsis for the series is as follows:

In the East Wing of the White House, many of history’s most impactful and world-changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic first ladies.

Jana Winograde, Showtime’s president of entertainment, said in a statement:

Throughout our history, presidents’ spouses have wielded remarkable influence, not only on the nation’s leaders but on the country itself. First Ladies fits perfectly within the Showtime wheelhouse of drama and politics, revealing how much personal relationships impact both domestic and global events. Having Viola Davis play Michelle Obama is a dream come true, and we couldn’t be luckier to have her extraordinary talent to help launch this series.

First Ladies will probably arrive on Showtime in 2021, if not later.