Showtime cancels poorly reviewed ‘The First Lady’ series that starred Viola Davis as Michelle Obama

Premium cable network Showtime heavily promoted its anthology series The First Lady, which shared accounts of the lives of the wives of three former presidents, but the show largely fell flat with viewers and critics.

As such, Showtime just announced that the series that starred and was produced by actress Viola Davis, who portrayed Michelle Obama, had been canceled and would not be brought back for a second season, Breitbart reported.

In addition to Davis playing Obama, the first season of The First Lady also featured actresses Gillian Anderson and Michelle Pfieffer as former first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford, respectively.

Showtime series “will not be moving forward with another season”

Deadline was the first to report that the series that “focused on telling the stories of America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic first ladies” would not be brought back for a second or third season, as had been initially planned.

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

“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 statement added.

The outlet noted that as recently as February, Schulman and Bier were teasing future seasons of the show and name-dropped several former first ladies that were under consideration to be featured, including “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Hillary Clinton, Dolly Madison, Edith Wilson, Martha Washington, Rosalynn Carter, or Melania Trump.”

Poor reviews from critics and viewers

Deadline seemed to imply that the “lukewarm reception” the series received from critics and viewers likely played a role in the cancellation, and People magazine reported that Season 1 of The First Lady had scored a dismal 41 percent rating from TV critics and a mediocre 58 percent rating with audiences on the Rotten Tomatoes site.

Entertainment Weekly‘s critic Kristen Baldwin had lambasted the series — which debuted in April and concluded in June — as “a woeful waste of three wonderful actresses.”

Likewise, the chief critic for Variety, Caroline Framke, took issue with the way the show had been structured to bounce back-and-forth among the three primary characters, and said, “squeezing their stories together doesn’t just make for confusing television, but does them all a disservice in the process.”

Davis critiqued for over-playing Obama

Breitbart noted that numerous other critics had sharply panned Showtime’s The First Lady as simply being a bad show, while many viewers had keyed in on Davis herself for over-acting and trying too hard to mimic some of Obama’s affectations, such as pursing her lips.

Regardless of the various issues pointed out by critics and viewers, some of which may have been addressed or avoided in future seasons, Showtime decided the safer bet was simply to pull the plug on the series, which was probably the smart move careerwise for all involved.

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