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The First Lady S1 Ep 2 review: The way women stand up for themselves against gender discrimination at the White House is inspiring

The series, starring Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt, is created by Aaron Cooley. It revolves around the lives of the First Ladies at the White House when their husbands were elected President. The story is presented from their perspectives. 

3rating
  • Akhila Damodaran

Last Updated: 11.02 AM, Apr 24, 2022

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The First Lady S1 Ep 2 review: The way women stand up for themselves against gender discrimination at the White House is inspiring

A still from The First Lady Episode 2/YouTube screengrab

Story:

The new episode, titled: "Voices Carry" is about the first day of the First Ladies at the White House and the discriminations, they face while delivering duties of administration.

Review:

The new episode, Voices Carry, as the title suggests is about the voices of the First Ladies and the noises that they created when there were attempts to suppress their voices and they were considered 'unqualified' to do the administrative works. Those struggles that the women had to go through were awful but the way they took a stand for themselves confidently was amazing.

The episode begins with a close-up shot of Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) drinking a glass of wine as she watches her husband, Franklin Roosevelt giving his speech after taking over as the President. And the scene suddenly, cuts to some black and white video footages, depicting Great Depression in the country. There were people dying of hunger and a rise in the population of homeless people with stock markets crashing. Eleanor is then seen walking to the White House, getting herself a reality check about the socio-political situation in the country. She takes charge and lobbies for an unprecedented formal position in the administration. Even though her role is diminished at the White House by her husband himself, she is seen helping him with his inaugral speech, which wins him several applauds.

After Nixon resigns, the Vice President Jerry is made the President and his wife Betty becomes the First Lady. Several administrative personnel then order Betty's secretary to ensure that she does not involves in important events so that she does not do anything that can affect Ford's Presidency. The secretary tries to take a stand for her but all in vain. She takes Betty Ford to her office, which is almost completely empty. Betty finds a table and a chair and rearranges them and the scene where she asks her, if she liked her decoration, leaving the secretary embarrassed is a delight to watch. Betty later decides to change her mind about the State Dinner and takes a call to host it after cancelling it. The episode ends perfectly with Betty's dance with her husband, who praises her for organising the party well even at the last minute.

Betty Ford's story is told in a flashback via Michelle Obama's tale. Michelle receives letter from Ford on her first day at the White House, convincing her that though the job might seem overwhelming at the moment, she'll understand and learn them soon. The scene is empowering, showing women supporting each other. The events leading up to Obama's election are also shown, where Michelle decides to give public speeches to support Obama during his campaigns, even though she says she hates them. But her words are twisted and it leads to media scrutiny and negative publicity. Amongst all this, the fun banter between the couple and the efforts they put in to spend time with each other and their family is beautiful. The scene where Michelle tells Obama to tell his work wife Rahm to keep himself out of the 'family business' as he tries to get Michelle to do some gender-biased roles, undermining her worth. The way she barges into Rahm's meeting and tells him to stop sidelining her and leave all the decisions to her is powerful.

The use of real footages from the campaigns and when Jerry took over Presidency was unexpected and unnecessary. Though thoughtful, it appeared to be jarring as it did not add anything significant to the story.

The way the three stand up against gender-biased roles in the administration is inspiring. But it would have created better impact if the makers could have shown more of their struggles. Since an episode covers lives of three First Ladies in an almost one-hour long runtime, it does not give viewers to soak in the experiences and emotions that the characters are going through.

Verdict:

The episode is interesting as it draws a real picture of what the First Ladies had to go through on their first day at the White House.

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