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Michelle Obama

Showtime's 'First Ladies' Will Feature Michelle Obama. How will Melania Trump Follow That Act?

Gettyimages | Chip Somodevilla
By Robert Safir

Showtime’s “First Ladies” will be a program featuring figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama. How will the show come across when it moves on to the current First Lady, Melania Trump?

While in the White House, Michelle Obama championed healthy living and advocated for children. She will be portrayed by Viola Davis - an excellent casting decision for the role. Davis seems like a perfect fit with her powerful voice and commanding presence.

Viola Davis received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for "Fences," and became the first black actor to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting: winning a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony in acting.

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Michelle Obama's Track Record

Michelle Obama
Gettyimages | Rick Friedman

Michelle Obama herself has quite an impressive resume. She owns two Ivy League degrees. Early on in the White House she founded Let’s Move! that had an ambitious goal - to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. The program helped parents make healthier food choices for their children.

In 2010 she was able to pass The School Lunch program with bipartisan support. The program provides free and reduced-price meals to more than 21 million low-income children.

She was able to get some of the country’s largest food manufacturers to cut 1.5 trillion calories from the food they sell by 2015 through their "Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation."

With Jill Biden - Programs Helping Veterans and the Nation's Young People

Jill Biden
Gettyimages | SAUL LOEB

In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden worked together to launch Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families. The program helped veterans and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.

In 2014, the First Lady launched the Reach Higher Initiative, an effort to inspire young people across America to complete their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.

What Children Does Melania Support?

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In 2015, Mrs. Obama joined President Obama to launch Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government-wide initiative to help girls all around the world go to school and stay in school.

Michelle Obama's approval rating has stayed surprisingly high. When President Barack Obama’s approval rating plummeted to 40%, Michelle’s remained high at 70%.

Which begs the question - what will Melania Trump's contributions look like under the current administration?

In her role as First Lady, Mrs. Trump has focused her time on the many issues affecting children. The tone of her voice suggests an aptitude for showing love and compassion in her dealings with children. But here's the rub: at the same time these efforts are occurring, thousands of immigrant children are being held up in cages at the U.S./Mexican border. Separated from their parents (itself a cruel act), many of these children and parents will not be able to be united because officials have "lost track" of where their parents are.

Will BE BEST Be Enough?

Children playin in a field
Unsplash | Robert Collins

Mrs. Trump also launched BE BEST—an awareness campaign focused entirely around the well-being of children. Unfortunately these programs, and others, are case studies in hypocrisy when you consider that her husband, the president, couldn't care less about children, what they eat, how they get an education, and so on. The same display of hypocrisy is apparent when the First Lady brought out a program that stood against bullying. America's chief bully, by many expert opinions, resides in the same White House that she does.

These are more than opinions - these are widespread perceptions by Americans - about programs the First Lady has engaged in without a glance over her shoulder to evaluate how they will be accepted. So the question remains, how will Melania Trump look in a television series, especially when she will be measured in comparison to Michelle Obama? For the series writers and producers, this may turn out to be a very difficult story arc to develop.

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