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S01.E05: See Saw

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Eleanor holds the White House's first all-female press conference and grows closer to journalist Lorena Hickock. Betty publicly announces her breast cancer diagnosis. Michelle prompts new legislation with her healthy school lunch program.

May 15, 2022

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The Betty Ford scenes got to me. I wish I’d been a bit older to appreciate her during her heydays. 

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The series may be meh but Michelle Pfeiffer is coming for that Emmy anyways. Amazing performance.

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The Betty Ford scenes are all that interested me.  Too bad they couldn't separate it into different shows that focus exclusively on an individual rather than go back and forth between all three women within an episode.

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I thought the Eleanor and Betty segments were the best this episode.  I appreciated that Eleanor took no guff from Franklin's Press Secretary and plowed ahead with the press conference, done in the way she wanted it done, regardless of what he thought.  I also liked Betty's strength in discussing her diagnosis, and her real anger at Gerald for the pardon.  I feel like Michelle's segments suffer from a lack of real conflict or direction. 

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10 hours ago, Neiman said:

The Betty Ford scenes are all that interested me.  Too bad they couldn't separate it into different shows that focus exclusively on an individual rather than go back and forth between all three women within an episode.

Yeah, i would have preferred each episode focus on only one of them.  I just get interested in the Betty and Eleanor stories and then we get more exaggerated lips Michelle which I am really disliking. I wonder how the real Michelle feels about her portrayal. She can't be happy.

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10 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

I thought the Eleanor and Betty segments were the best this episode.  I appreciated that Eleanor took no guff from Franklin's Press Secretary and plowed ahead with the press conference, done in the way she wanted it done, regardless of what he thought.  I also liked Betty's strength in discussing her diagnosis, and her real anger at Gerald for the pardon.  I feel like Michelle's segments suffer from a lack of real conflict or direction. 

Never has 'no drama Obama(s)' been more apropos. And I'm sure there was drama and conflict but compared with Betty Ford (addiction, health issues) and Eleanor Roosevelt (closet sexuality, subjugation of women from public life), they're not finding a way to bring it on screen. The uproar over 'Let's Move' and the garden was ridiculous and outlandish but they'd have to give a lot of screentime to the wingnuts who really pitched the fits over them. I'm sure Rahm Emanuel was an arsehole but whatever conflict he's supposed to be bringing to the Michelle scenes just doesn't compete with the other women's. I'm sorry for the stress that being in the White House put on Susan Sher's marriage but did we spend enough time with her to really care about the end of that relationship?

Maybe if they were doing dedicate stand-alone episodes to each, we could focus on how the right-wing racism machine cranked up in American culture and how it affected the family. Maybe it's what I thought from the outset, that it was 'too soon' to know things and feelings that were happening to and among the Obamas in the White House. As a result, Viola is left looking for things to react to and we're left with seeing this face over and over to relatively low-stakes (again, in comparison with the other women) conflicts:

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(Sorry, I saw her facial expressions compared to Church Lady elsewhere and I cannot unsee it.)

I feel like ultimately, someone should give this the 'Julia Without Julie' treatment and just edit all of Betty Ford's scenes into a single YouTube movie.

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I read that the real Michelle Obama hasn’t said anything about the portrayal so that’s probably her nice way of saying it sucks. Nothing about it seems like Michelle Obama. It seems to get worse every episode. There’s this weird voice thing happening now.

Betty and Eleanor’s scenes are good still but when Viola comes on scene I groan. Her younger scenes are better.

All the stupid men against Eleanor annoyed me. Glad Eleanor just did what she wanted. Fuck that press secretary.

Betty’s stuff made me cry. I never really knew much about her other then the alcohol stuff. She seemed like such a brave lady. Michelle Pfeiffer is killing it too. I like Betty’s friend who also works for her I think. I’m also overdue for a mammogram so it kind of freaked me out.

I mean it sucks that persons marriage failed who works for Michelle but I don’t know why I would care about a character I barely know.

If the show goes on I hope Viola isn’t in it as an actress again.

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3 hours ago, Marley said:

I like Betty’s friend who also works for her I think. I’m also overdue for a mammogram so it kind of freaked me out.

The perpetually and criminally underrated Judy Greer!

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Michelle/Betty are my main reason to watch and, as someone with some BC scares, her scenes really resonated with me. That moment when Gerald came in and made it very clear with his actions, even more so than his words, that he didn't feel any differently about her post-surgery and her reaction...beautifully played.

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And please give Michelle all the Emmys.

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Say what you must about Gerald Ford, but the guy was a good husband and he clearly loved Betty.

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Is it possible that Viola had her upper lip plumped for this role? Sometimes it looks like she is pursing her lips even when one cannot purse one’s lips, such as when she’s laughing.

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On 5/16/2022 at 8:18 AM, cinsays said:

Yeah, i would have preferred each episode focus on only one of them.  I just get interested in the Betty and Eleanor stories and then we get more exaggerated lips Michelle which I am really disliking. I wonder how the real Michelle feels about her portrayal. She can't be happy.

I love Viola Davis but they way she's pursing her lips is just very distracting as well as inaccurate. I just don't seem to remember Michelle Obama pursing her lips like that. No...she can't be happy about the way she's being portrayed. Yikes!

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14 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

Say what you must about Gerald Ford, but the guy was a good husband and he clearly loved Betty.

I had no idea he was as sexy as he's being portrayed! He always seemed like a nice guy but kind a of a dud. Chevy Chase's impression of him on SNL as a klutz didn't help. He was a good guy and loved his family and Betty. I always liked her and thought she had a lot of spunk.

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1 hour ago, Hedgehog2022 said:

I had no idea he was as sexy as he's being portrayed!

Me neither. 

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Once again I skipped through all the Obama scenes. I just can't with those lips. The scene with Betty looking at her extensive scar, then Jerry coming in and loving her so gently made me tear up. She was a very brave woman, along with Eleanor going full steam ahead with her plans, press secretary be damned.  Pretty good stuff.

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I cackled when Eleanor handed out the recipe card and then promptly moved on to what else the "woman of the house" would have to time to discuss now that dinner is sorted.  CACKLED, I tell you.  

The strength and support that Betty's family and dearest friend provided to her were absolutely lovely.  The gold standard for what I sincerely wish every patient in this world could have.  That kind of team makes all the difference in someone's experience.

I continue to echo the sentiments already expressed here about the portrayal of the Obamas.  Even the Barack character feels wrong to me; like a comedian's impression.  Ugh.  They just take all of the umph out of this show.

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7 hours ago, AnnMarie17 said:

I cackled when Eleanor handed out the recipe card and then promptly moved on to what else the "woman of the house" would have to time to discuss now that dinner is sorted.  CACKLED, I tell you.  

The strength and support that Betty's family and dearest friend provided to her were absolutely lovely.  The gold standard for what I sincerely wish every patient in this world could have.  That kind of team makes all the difference in someone's experience.

I continue to echo the sentiments already expressed here about the portrayal of the Obamas.  Even the Barack character feels wrong to me; like a comedian's impression.  Ugh.  They just take all of the umph out of this show.

Isn't the actor who plays Obama actually a comic/actor who did an impression of Obama on TV and at events?

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37 minutes ago, Hedgehog2022 said:

Isn't the actor who plays Obama actually a comic/actor who did an impression of Obama on TV and at events?

I don't see anything in O-T Fagbenle's credits with regard to playing Obama in the past. The one other thing I knew him from was The Handmaid's Tale, though he has an impressive breadth of work (stage, screen, radio). 

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I hate how this show has portrayed the Obamas.

At least I like the Roosevelt's and Fords.

What was Viola Davis thinking, what were the rest of the production thinking?

Michelle may have not walked so gracefully - but VD lumbers.

And let's just see Viola go on the old Ellen show and dance...let alone do push ups like Michelle did.

Edited by maggiemae
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8 hours ago, TakomaSnark said:

I don't see anything in O-T Fagbenle's credits with regard to playing Obama in the past. The one other thing I knew him from was The Handmaid's Tale, though he has an impressive breadth of work (stage, screen, radio). 

I think he was on The Daily Show or Colbert early in Obama's first term and did an Obama impression. He seems very familiar to me in that regard....but who knows.

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On 5/15/2022 at 8:49 PM, Neiman said:

The Betty Ford scenes are all that interested me.  Too bad they couldn't separate it into different shows that focus exclusively on an individual rather than go back and forth between all three women within an episode.

If they did that, I would only be watching the Betty episodes.  I've already seen and read a lot about Eleanor, so this series isn't showing me anything new or compelling.  Viola's Michelle is an abomination.

On 5/16/2022 at 8:07 AM, TakomaSnark said:

Never has 'no drama Obama(s)' been more apropos. And I'm sure there was drama and conflict but compared with Betty Ford (addiction, health issues) and Eleanor Roosevelt (closet sexuality, subjugation of women from public life), they're not finding a way to bring it on screen.

Michelle's bare arms and Let's Move were somehow huge scandals the media happily leapt upon during the Obama terms.  Maybe they should have focused her segments on conflict with media and the GOP slings and arrows.  There were relentless, racist attacks in social media comparing Michelle to monkeys and calling her a man.  That had to have been infuriating and terrifying for Michelle and the family because no one was shy about hating on them for their race.  It's a huge miss to leave that out of the series.

Edited by izabella
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Exactly...and then so many women newscasters started wearing sleeveless dresses.

I wonder if Viola can pull it off, or the dancing or the fun interviews and exercising with Ellen. Or even the exercise of gardening with children in her garden.

The Obama's were seriously miscast.

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