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Gillian Anderson & Lily Rabe Bring Eleanor Roosevelt’s Queer Love Story to Life in The First Lady

Gillian Anderson & Lily Rabe Bring Eleanor Roosevelt’s Queer Love Story to Life in The First Lady

Lily Rabe and Gillian Anderson in 'The First Lady'
Courtesy of Showtime

"It was time to do it," showrunner Cathy Schulman said.

Fresh off her turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Gillian Anderson is set to star as another powerful historical woman, Eleanor Roosevelt -- and this time the role is decidedly queerer.

There's been plenty of debate about just how intimate the former first lady's relationship was with trailblazing journalist Lorena Hickok (Lily Rabe) but in the upcoming Showtime anthology series The First Lady that debate is settled.

Showrunner Cathy Schulman confirmed to reporters at the Television Critics Association in February that the series will explore their romantic relationship. "It was time to do it," she explained.

In the trailer, the audience can get a handful of glimpses of what's to come this season. At one point, the two dance and in another Roosevelt takes Hickok's face in her hands. It's intimate, sweet, and very gay.

ER and Hick, as they called one another, were first acquainted when Hickok became convinced -- and assured her editors at the Associated Press -- that Roosevelt would make for a great story. "The dame has enormous dignity, she's a person," Hickok told her boss after seeing the first lady at the 1932 Democratic convention. She lobbied the publication for the White House beat and not only got it, but so much more. The two became so close that Hickok resigned from her position at the AP because she could no longer be objective about her subject.

Much of what is known about their relationship comes from intimate letters between the two of them, where they shared how they were always in one another's thoughts. "I want to put my arms around you and kiss you at the corner of your mouth," Hickok once wrote to Roosevelt, who reciprocated by saying how she yearned to hold Hickok in her arms as well.

While this romance has often been downplayed, The First Lady -- which also focuses on Michelle Obama's (Viola Davis) and Betty Ford's (Michelle Pfeiffer) times in the White House -- is finally not shying away from queerness this time around.

The First Lady premieres April 17 on Showtime. Watch the trailer below.

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