The First Lady (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

That White House

1 My husband was considering you for his portrait but you took yourself out of contention.
Why? I was only interested in painting you.
I'm sure he'll be glad to hear that.
Well, the thing is, the president, even a Black president, is the institution.
I don't wanna just paint the official.
I am interested in the real.
across America starting at Washington can be an awfully tough town, on a political wife.
Would you agree? Well, I agree.
But I had, you see, 26 years experience as the wife of a congressman.
But I think a congressional wife has to be a special kind of woman.
I don't think all women really can adjust to this type of life.
"The battle for individual rights of women is one of long standing, and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.
" "People say, no woman could stand the physical strain a man endures.
But that, I think is nonsense.
A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong it is "until it's in hot water.
" Sasha, stop it.
You can't have any more.
No Listen, this is how it's gonna go.
When we get to Washington, Grandma's gonna meet us at the hotel, and then Daddy and I are gonna go see the Bushes at the White House.
Okay? Look! It's Dad.
Let's go see Daddy.
- Michelle! - Mrs.
Obama! - Michelle! - Mrs.
Obama! Mrs.
President! Thank you.
There they are.
Come on, come on.
Oh! Look at you! You look so pretty.
- The fuck? - Yeah, it's a lot.
It's a lot.
All right.
You ready? We're gonna go on a little ride.
You good? Okay.
- Huh? - Very cool.
I know.
For the first time an African-American has been elected president of the United States.
A day many thought would never come, a night this country will never forget.
Barack Obama, the 47-year-old junior senator from Illinois will be sworn in on January 20th.
Obama! Obama! Obama! Yeah! Barack! Mr.
Obama! - You doing all right? - No.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Michelle, great to see you.
Thank you for having us.
Constitution doesn't give us much choice.
- Barack.
How are the girls? - Laura.
Okay, I think.
We left them with my mom at the Hay-Adams.
Well, come on in.
It's one hell of a tour.
Good folks.
People draw art.
Hey, how you doing? - Sir.
- Good to meet you.
- Ma'am.
- Ma'am? That's going to take some getting used to.
Well, it's my honor, ma'am.
Wilson has been at the White House since 1957.
- Incredible.
- Mm-hmm.
He knows everything about everything.
Now, anything in particular you'd like to see first? The bar.
- Start at the bar.
- Yeah.
I think that's a grand idea.
And this is the center hall.
- Beautiful.
- Mm-hmm.
Oh, no.
I'm not gonna lie to you.
It'll never seem normal.
But you will find a way to make it comfortable.
How you doin'? You'll find your reading nook or that special place where you can be still and quiet.
Oh, please.
It was always a battle but I tried to make sure we started every day together, in here.
I'm already worried about someone spilling juice on the upholstery.
You'll get over that.
Sort of.
How you doing today? Ooh, I love it.
Oh, that is my favorite.
Luckily, you get to choose your own art.
Let me show you my favorite spot.
Even with all the Secret Service agents there's a comfort knowing he's down there.
Does that sound silly? No.
Not at all.
It's not going to be easy for you.
I don't imagine it's an easy transition for anybody.
Oh, of course.
But the level of scrutiny on you, on your husband.
Everybody's gonna have an opinion on your decorum.
On your clothes, on how you raise your children.
On whether your graduate degree is too feminist, or if your causes aren't feminist enough.
I learned a long time ago, that there's some people I'll never please.
All I can do is what I believe is right.
You'll figure out what kind of First Lady you wanna be.
Thank you, Laura.
You're gonna be terrific.
I'm looking forward to it.
Thank you.
Now can we see the bar? This is a CBS News Special Report.
The Vice President resigns.
The big question tonight, who will succeed Spiro Agnew as vice president? President Nixon pledged to be open-minded in picking a nominee.
Some of the names being mentioned as possibilities are republican house and senate leaders, Gerald Ford and Hugh Scott.
Former Secretary of State, William Rogers.
Why aren't you at school? Is everything okay? Yeah, everything is fine.
They just let us out early.
There's, uh, leftover mashed potatoes and meat loaf in the oven if you like.
of leaking information.
Thomson said tonight that he had reviewed the evidence against the Vice President, and quote, "The man is a crook, no question about that at all.
" Thomson said he was certain Agnew would've been convicted if brought to trial What did Agnew do again? Let's see Bribery, extortion, tax fraud, all very disappointing politics.
Well, thank goodness Dad is retiring in a few years.
Amen to that.
The case against Agnew Would you mind switching it off? In a detailed 40-page recitation of the evidence that Sunset Magazine.
You really are counting the days aren't you, Mom? This is where we're going to build.
I just wanna be warm.
I approve.
You've served your time.
Go West, young woman.
Maybe you can start dancing for real again.
I think it's a little late for that, but I love you for saying so.
Ladies and gentlemen, a new interpretive piece by Martha Graham dancer Betty Ford.
- Unchained! - Oh! Palm Springs, sprung! Maybe you'll make friends with the Sinatras.
Oh, I think the Sinatras have much more exciting people to spend time with.
That'll be Lisa looking for me.
- Are you here? - Yes.
Ford residence this is Bet Oh, that's the bedroom line.
Mom, answer it.
Hello? Connecting you to the West Win.
Oh, my God, the West Wing.
This way, ma'am.
Uh, Angela will take your coat.
Thank you.
Just this way.
They've already started.
I've gathered you all here today so that I may proudly present to you the man Go sit with Mrs.
whose name I will submit to the congress for the vice president of the United States.
Congressmen Gerald Ford of Michigan.
Thank you.
Thank you.
President, I am deeply honored - This is for you.
- Thank you.
and I am extremely grateful and I am terribly humbled.
And I pledge to you my colleagues and the Congress.
And I pledge to the American people.
That to the best of my ability, if confirmed I'll be your honorable and devoted vice president.
What are you doing up so early? I can't believe I shared a seat with the First Lady, honestly.
It was cute.
So much for sunshine.
- It's only two years.
- Hmm.
I'll get you your sunshine, I promise.
- You promise? - Mm-hmm.
One beer coming up.
All right, it's my turn.
Quit cheating.
- Umpire.
I was just practicing.
- Quit cheating, quit cheating.
Play by the rules, Eleanor.
Oh! My turn.
Really hard.
Oh, that was too hard! - I've made it harder for myself.
- Now look at Franklin.
- Just look at him.
- Yes.
If I didn't know him better, I would think he's a film star.
Oh, don't say that too loud.
His ego is large enough as it is.
Well, it's what will get him elected governor and who knows after that? Oh.
It's only been a year since my defeat in my bid for the vice presidency.
- You don't think it's too soon? - Not in the slightest.
- You're at your peak.
- Hmm.
- Did you hear that, Eleanor? - Yes, I heard it, and all I know is you need to take a shower and get dressed for dinner, golden boy.
Franklin, you're fresh on everyone's mind and the two of you, together, present a truly irresistible team.
Yes, we do make a good team.
Thank you.
- Croquet? - No, I'd rather be a spectator.
- Cheers.
- Cheers.
Right, Eleanor, you're up! My turn.
I believe I'm winning.
- Well, you keep missing.
- Watch out, Louis.
Ha-ha! Help! Franklin? - Oh! What happened? - My legs.
They won't work.
I don't know what's going on.
Please! I'll lift you up onto the bed.
Ow! No, no, no, no! Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh, God.
What's going on? Call Dr.
Oh, you're burning up.
- Franklin.
- Ow! Oh, Franklin.
It's all right.
It's all right.
For God's sake, stop.
Oh, but Dr.
Keen said this would help, Franklin.
Well, it's not.
It's making it worse.
Please, stop! Let's stop.
I'll call Dr.
I want a second opinion.
This isn't all right, Louis.
It shouldn't be this painful.
- I'm sorry, Franklin.
- I'm sorry.
Louis? Louis! Eleanor.
What is it? - It's polio.
- What? - It's polio.
- What? Eleanor.
Franklin is resting.
All of the specialists confirmed that it's polio.
Well, that's not possible.
They say that it is.
- But he's not a child.
- That it can affect adults.
Well How? Well, what are you looking at here? Um It was the standing water in the cove.
The virus was just sitting there, apparently.
He must've contracted it when they swam that day.
What? No.
My son can't have polio.
No, no, I don't believe it.
I don't believe it.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my God.
Eleanor No one can find out.
They must protect him.
Give him purpose.
If anyone can rise above tragedy, it's Franklin.
Well, I'm sure glad you're here, Louis.
Nell, dear I wanted to tell you.
I'm sorry your mother was taken so soon.
You and your brother, you're going to be all right.
I promise you that.
You're a good girl, Eleanor.
Thanks, Uncle Teddy.
Daddy, can we go home now? Grandma Mary will take you and your baby brother to her house for a while.
I need to go away for a rest.
But then we'll go with you.
It's not that kind of a rest, now.
Your Uncle Teddy has a plan to get me well again.
And as soon as I get better, I will come see you.
No, but I can help you.
I know you can.
And I need your help.
I need you to go with your grandmother and take care of your baby brother, just the way your mother would.
Can you do that for me, just till I come back good as new? Good evening.
Under heavy pressure to resign, some of it coming from strong supporters of the past.
President Nixon headed for Washington without, according to a spokesman, talking to his two Watergate lawyers, whom he had summoned to Florida.
Meantime, the man Mr.
Nixon chose to be vice president, Gerald Ford, faced his own pressure before the Senate Rules Committee.
Transparency and honesty are at a premium right now.
Facing questions over his use of a psychiatrist, Congressman Ford failed to deliver either.
Congressman Ford, do you deny meeting with this psychiatrist? Maybe I've met with him once or twice, uh, socially.
Ran into him at the, uh The club or He is in your appointments calendar at least, uh, twice that we can find.
His silence spoke volumes.
- In other Watergate news - Oh, fuck a duck, Jerry.
Well, he's screwed now.
first jail sentence against Donald Segretti, the man known as "dirty-trick" Donald Sorry.
- Betty, congratulations.
- Thank you so much.
I'm so happy for you.
They're ready for you.
Today, the Congressional Club has a very special opportunity to honor one of our own.
On the eve of her being officially named our new Second Lady, Betty Ford.
Thank you, Jill.
Thank you, Jill.
And thank you, ladies.
It's wonderful to be up here after over a decade as a member of this group.
I know what you're all thinking The way her husband's hearing went today, is she even going to be Second Lady? Yes.
Well, let me tell you about something.
Uh, nearly ten years ago, I pinched a nerve in my neck.
During the course of treatment my doctor, uh, advised me that the source of my pain It was actually much deeper than any injury.
And he thought it might be a good idea for me to see a psychiatrist.
And it was a good idea.
For the first time, I was able to verbalize We love our husbands, right? - Yes.
- Right? Okay.
But every night he's at a fundraiser or a speech in some faraway city.
Then he comes home right at the kids' bedtime, disrupts the entire household, then he heads into the bedroom, and you go downstairs to heat up some dinner, and mix cocktails, but when you come back up he's snoring.
And you're left holding two cocktails.
But this is what we signed up for ladies when we married politicians.
But that psychiatrist reminded me that my life isn't only about those days.
There is a Betty without Jerry Ford.
And that Betty needs to make sure that she's healthy, before she can do anything else.
It was my psychiatrist Jerry met with twice.
My psychiatrist you heard discussed in his confirmation hearings this morning.
He met with my psychiatrist, to support me.
And I love him for that.
And for letting me be the one to explain that - Yes! Absolutely.
Well done! - to the American people.
Well done! Yes.
That's great, Franklin.
Wave to the crowd.
Whoo! Father, are you okay? Oh.
Better than okay.
He made it nine steps this time.
- I'll get there.
- Oh, of course, you will.
Can't we just move the podium? I can't control the proportions of the room, James.
I wish I could.
We'll try it again.
Don't you think he needs a break Mother? Jesus, he's bleeding.
And so I am.
James, I am fine.
All I need is a glass of water and we will do this again.
- I'll get it.
- That's the spirit.
Right, let's take a break.
Louis, hold on.
Just give me a moment, boys.
- Please, just a moment.
- Yes, yes.
I hope you never have to see your son in such pain.
Sara, you know that he's wanted to run for governor for a decade now.
Maybe longer.
And with these braces, he's finally got his chance.
As I told you before many years ago when this nightmare began, he should be retired and living at Hyde Park in a dignified manner.
Not falling and And bleeding, and being humiliated for an impossible idea.
Not impossible.
Oh People admire resilience.
They are inspired by it.
It shows them that they too can overcome the most unspeakable setbacks.
And you know, Governor was always on the next step of the ladder to the White House.
The White House! You're so cruel when you encourage these pipe dreams.
Franklin had a-a bright future.
Impossibly bright.
There was nothing my son couldn't have accomplished.
But that was before.
It is no longer, Eleanor.
I'm sorry, Sara, but I respectfully disagree.
I think there is nothing that Franklin can't do.
So, you'll keep at it then? It's what he wants, Sara.
I think you better think up a backup plan for when he loses.
He's not going to lose.
Alberta King sat at the organ in the Ebenezer Baptist Church when a young man sprang to his feet and yelled, "I'm going to kill everyone in here.
" And shot Mrs.
King three times.
Well, it's as if the King family is being tested.
I've never seen a family suffer so much tragedy in my life.
- Mr.
- He's available? Of course.
- Mr.
Rumsfeld, sir.
- Yes? Are you aware the vice president's wife has requested the jet for Alberta King's funeral? - Has she? - Yeah.
Well, thank you, Dick.
Thank you, sir.
Are you joining us today? I had to warn you when I heard, ma'am.
It is not appropriate for you to represent the administration at Mrs.
King's funeral.
I wasn't aware the administration found compassion inappropriate.
Well, we both know that's not accurate.
I guess that explains why I'll be the only person there representing the White House.
It was a tragic event.
No, the tragedy is that this kind of thing happens every day in this country and no one bats an eye.
Have you given any thought to what's coming? We both know Nixon won't survive this Watergate mess.
You'll be walking into ten times the scrutiny that you've ever faced.
Scrutiny of every skeleton.
Every closet.
Scrutiny of your first husband.
It's Susan.
Jerry's already asked me to be his chief of staff.
So that means I'll be everywhere all of the time.
And, uh, if anyone And I mean anyone, says things to the press or the congressional club, or to whomever that might jeopardize him staying in the White House, I have to stop them.
My goodness, Don.
What happened to you? I take my position very seriously.
Let's get this plane in the air.
Senseless violence took not only my wife but my son, Martin Luther King Jr.
My heart is wounded.
My heart is bruised.
But it is not broken! - Yes, Lord.
Yes, Lord.
- No! How sweet the sound ♪ That saved a wretch ♪ like me ♪ I once ♪ was lost ♪ But now ♪ am found ♪ Was blind ♪ but now ♪ I see ♪ Through many ♪ dangers ♪ With the South Side Healthcare Collaborative any patient who shows up in our emergency room who can't afford a primary care doctor will instantly be connected to one.
I'm talking about people who live outside these walls.
Who sweep our floors, drive our city's buses, collect our trash.
These are our neighbors.
And if we believe that health care is not just for the privileged few, then it's time we served them too.
All right, thank you.
- Thanks, everyone.
- Mm-hmm.
I think making you VP of Community Affairs might be the best decision I ever made.
Oh, I'm sorry.
Your decision? Okay, fine.
That was all Susan.
But, what I'm trying to say is, I hired an amazing person who hired an amazing person.
So, I think I deserve a little credit.
Thanks, Michelle.
I gotta say, you are on a hell of a roll here, Michelle.
- Mm-hmm.
- And the noticeable increase in R & B soul music playing in the ER is my favorite part.
We gotta sound like we're on the South Side too.
And word on the street is, your life away from work might start getting a little busy.
You mean Barack's campaign? That's his thing, not mine.
His thing is running for president of the United States.
Which, I imagine, could eventually mean everybody in his life kind of thing.
Yeah, but we still don't know how far the campaign will go.
And Barack knows I've got my own thing going on Yeah, and I love that about you guys.
I'm just saying it's a possibility.
I have Sasha on the phone, calling mummy for the first time.
Oh! We'll pick up on this later.
Hi, bug.
How you doing? Who? What do you mean, there are secret people all over the house? Renaissance has landed.
Hey, brother.
Who the hell are you? Agent Allen Taylor, ma'am.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Your protective detail starts today.
Shit! Protection unit on scene.
- received.
- Hey, honey.
You're home early.
Protective detail? - You're not even a nominee yet.
- I know, right.
It's Where are the girls? - You're okay? - Good morning! Hmm? Mm-hmm.
- Mommy's here.
- We're fine.
That's why the secret people are here.
To protect us.
Well, that's what Dad said.
- One of them gave me candy.
- Spit it out.
- But, Mom.
- No candy from strangers, you know that.
Give it to me.
I told you.
Come here.
- Be good.
- Mm-hmm.
Your man kicked the Secret Service out of the house.
I said, "Look, fellas" "I don't care how many guns you got.
My wife doesn't like it.
Get to steppin'.
" Now, strictly speaking, they can't leave the property, but - Come on.
- It's not funny, Barack.
There are men with guns outside our home.
Did they say why now? Well, look, there-there There have been some threats.
- Some letters, message boards.
- There are death threats? Well, hey, look, baby, we always knew there There would be some crazies.
When did you plan on telling me? Uh.
Well, uh, I-I was gonna, but I-I didn't want you to freak out.
Well, you certainly failed at that.
Well, look I mean, Mich, th-this kind of thing happens at this level.
Really? John Edwards have Secret Service? What about John McCain? Mitt Romney? - Probably not.
- Yeah.
You know why? You're a coon.
You're a nigga, running for president of the United States.
So, yeah, there's a little difference between you and those - other candidates, Barack.
- Just Um, I could be president of the United States.
Can you find it in yourself to be a little excited for me? Excuse me if I can't share in the excitement of my husband potentially being shot.
It is interesting to me that you're more willing to believe in me being It be me being shot, than me being president.
Oh, no.
I think it's interesting that you're willing to put your family in harm's way because of - your insatiable ambition.
- Don't do it.
Don't do that.
Don't do that.
You know what? Remember Jackie Kennedy? Her blood-splattered, pink Chanel suit? Her kids had to see that.
Someone had to explain that to them, Barack.
- Jackie Kennedy? - Yeah.
Martin, Malcolm, all of the above, this is not about that.
This is about the fact that you don't want me in politics.
You have never wanted me in politics.
So, just own up to that, hold that, all right? Because we've been through the security details meticulously at your request, right? You came in here with open eyes, so Mich? Mich? Make sure the girls brush their teeth later.
Just needed some daddy-chair time.
He used to love that old thing.
Still smells of him.
Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! - Are you okay, baby? - What's got into you? - I got into Princeton! - Oh, honey! That's wonderful! - That's amazing.
- They would've been fools not to accept you.
I'm gonna scare all the boys away from you.
Oh, you would do that! Oh, what is it, Mommy? Oh.
They're not offering any financial aid? I'm sorry.
I got so excited when I saw, "Congratulations, you're admitted.
" - I stopped reading right there.
- Don't be sorry.
This is a big deal.
You should be happy.
But how are we gonna pay for it? You did the work to get in.
You leave this part up to us.
We got room to take on another loan.
- You guys - Uh-uh-uh.
Listen to me.
You belong there.
Just do your thing.
- Thank you.
- Mmm.
So, what's going on? It's nothing.
Does "nothing" mean you married a tornado that turned everything you ever planned for in your life, upside down? I'm just terrified my girls are gonna see their daddy's picture hanging on someone's wall, like a Another dead Black hero.
Baby it seems you got two choices.
Both of them ending with that man doing what he's gonna do.
Well, what What should I do? You know what your daddy used to say about you.
Mich? Shit.
You can't tell that girl nothin'! Mmm.
Still, with the election 18 months away, it is notable that Obama is the earliest candidate to ever receive a government security detail.
You're still at it? Ninety percent of running for president is reading memos and the other ten is wondering why the fuck you ran in the first place.
So, how are we? I I-I met this little, old lady, she grabbed a hold of me, says, "Mr.
Obama, I sure hope you become president" because I'm sick and tired of lying to my grandchildren that they can be anything".
Yeah - All right? - Yeah.
I get that.
It's so much bigger than us at this point, and I'm scared.
I need you.
I got you.
I got you.
You always got me.
- Yes, I did.
- It's a bad habit.
Thank God I got you.
Lucky old me.
Come on.
I-I know I know what this position means.
Come in.
R, we were supposed to leave for your tour 20 minutes ago.
The First Lady is waiting.
I don't need a tour.
Uncle Teddy lived there for eight years.
I know, but it's part of the Charade? Protocol.
Why can't it wait till after the inauguration? There's plenty of time to reschedule.
My appointment is a four-year Sentence? Term.
From your former students, wishing you luck.
You haven't touched your breakfast.
I had coffee.
R, you have an impossibly long day and your lunch isn't until 1:30, you have to eat something.
Coffee is just fine.
It's more than most Americans will have all day.
All right, well, we don't have time to argue about it.
Okay, let's get going.
So, immediately following your tour, we're meeting with Edith Helm about the State dinner.
Oh, is she staying on as social secretary? Mmm, better her than me.
Then, we have decorators to meet with at noon.
From shaping young minds to decorating.
And I need to shift your meeting with Hick - for the APP's.
- Oh, no.
We'll give it an hour, probably sometime after 3:00 and Oh, we'll need much more than an hour.
It's just a few quotes about the inauguration.
Oh, that's if you want it to be a pop piece.
Senator, I understand all of it.
All I am saying is that the democratic party has to be a united front from day one.
Yes, thank you.
Eleanor, aren't you supposed to be with the retiring First Lady? We're on our way.
Will you make sure that he reads this? Uh, yes.
Of course.
What is it? It's my suggestions for cabinet appointments.
- Okay.
- Female ones.
- Where are we with the speech? - Well, not as far as we would be were there not 40 other things to do.
What's more important than the speech, Louis? - It's tomorrow.
- I know.
We'll get to it.
Well, let me see a draft of it.
I can cancel the First Lady.
You can't cancel the First Lady.
- I can cancel the First Lady.
- I told her she couldn't.
It's important that he lead with the cold, hard truth.
Add some hope to it, but he needs to state the facts, plain and simple.
There are 30 million Americans out of work and they don't want to be pandered to.
Couldn't agree more.
Left to his own devices, Franklin always errs on the side of optimism but we need to - strike the balance - Mrs.
Earl and the car have been outside for over an hour.
- Oh, goodness.
- That's entirely unnecessary.
I'm going to walk.
- You're not walking.
- You can't walk.
I most certainly am.
- Mm-mmm.
- Mrs.
R, Lou Hoover is waiting, we really need to go.
Yes, let's not keep her waiting.
Louis, when can we talk about the speech? We will get to it this afternoon.
Well, I'm all booked up this afternoon.
Yes, I'm aware.
Oh, I see.
I'm good enough to get him here, but not good enough to keep going.
You have your own schedule to worry about.
- Your own duties.
- Oh, good.
So, he's finally decided on my job in the administration.
Y-Yes, uh, First Lady.
That's not a job, Louis.
That's my circumstance.
Shall we, Tommy? I need some fresh air.
Is that terribly uncomfortable? I don't know.
It's all pretty uncomfortable.
- Can I help you in any way? - Hmm? Let me finish making breakfast for you.
Okay What is it? The Supreme court is ordering the president to release all the tapes.
He'll have no choice but to resign.
Well, that is news.
Impeachment would only add to the pain the country is already in, resignation will be swift and definite.
Betty you must understand, the country needs me.
- These last few months - Oh, would you fucking spare me! Just for once.
Thirteen campaigns First the people of Grand Rapids need you, then the country needs you to take the vice presidency and now you're desperately needed as President.
Can't you just be man enough to admit that you've always wanted this? I am a man of ambitions, Elizabeth.
I want to succeed.
I want to provide.
But if you think I want what's being handed to me from this administration, and I realize my ambitions have made life hard for you.
But you knew what you were getting into.
No! I did not know what I was getting into.
But here I am.
And I will be here for you.
But I am going to be myself.
I am going to do and say things that I believe in.
I think I've earned that right.
I'm going to take a shower.
You can finish up here.
Betty Thank you.
Are Pat and Julie okay? I don't I I'm sure it's difficult.
Yes, it is.

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