The First Lady Gets Canceled at Showtime After One Season

The First Lady is going to be a single-season series. Per Variety, it has just been reported that Showtime will not be ordering a second season of the anthology series which explored the private lives of various First Ladies in different time periods. The 10-episode first season premiered in April and wrapped up in June.

“Showtime can confirm that the anthology series The First Lady will not be moving forward with another season,” a statement from a Showtime spokesperson reads. “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.”


The series was created by Aaron Cooley and directed by Susanne Bier. It explored three different famous First Ladies with Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford, and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. Other cast members included Jayme Lawson, Kristine Froseth, Eliza Scanlen, O-T Fagbenle, Dakota Fanning, Lily Rabe, Kiefer Sutherland, Jackie Earle Haley, Kate Mulgrew, and Aaron Eckhart.

Critical Reception for The First Lady Was Not Great

The reviews were rather mixed for The First Lady which may have played a factor in the show getting axed by Showtime. When it premiered, it was saddled with a critics score of 43% and an audience score of 44% at Rotten Tomatoes, both considered to be “rotten.” At the time, series star Viola Davis addressed the critics who blasted the series, and in particular, her portrayal of Michelle Obama. Davis admits that it was hurtful to see these remarks but feels that critics ultimately serve no real purpose.

“It’s incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work,” she said, via BBC News. “How do you move on from the hurt, from failure? But you have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.”

Davis added, “Critics absolutely serve no purpose. And I’m not saying that to be nasty either. They always feel like they’re telling you something that you don’t know. Somehow that you’re living a life that you’re surrounded by people who lie to you and ‘I’m going to be the person that leans in and tells you the truth’. So it gives them an opportunity to be cruel to you. But ultimately I feel like it is my job as a leader to make bold choices. Win or fail it is my duty to do that.”