While the first lady isn't exactly known for being the most approachable woman in political circles, her television faves are surprisingly relatable. In a recent New York Times report, White House journalist Katie Rogers shared that Melania Trump's favorite TV shows are Empire and How To Get Away With Murder, making her a certified Shondaland fan.
In examining how pop culture shaped the Trump administration's first year, Rogers noted that Trump is a fan of a couple different television shows. "Melania Trump recently told me her favorite show is How to Get Away With Murder. I love that the first lady is a Shondaland fan. She also enjoys Empire," Rogers said.
Also surprising? In a marked departure from her husband, Trump is apparently not that big a fan of reality television. "Reality TV," Rogers said, "did not come up once."
When asked what Trump's favorite shows say about her taste, Rogers offered that Empire is a "juicy, outlandish" show, full of "larger-than-life personalities." In way, noted the reporter, the first lady's love of the show could be an escape for a woman who "is very much not into the spotlight, but is surrounded by very big personalities."
This isn't the first time it's been reported that Trump loves Shonda Rhimes' How to Get Away With Murder. In 2016, Trump told Us Weekly that it was her favorite television show. Vanity Fair later noted that it was an amusing choice given her husband's comments that he could "stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody" and he wouldn't lose the support of his base.
Among the other pop culture revelations from the Times piece are that the president himself mostly sticks to cable news (though he does enjoy Citizen Kane, according to culture editor Patrick Healy). And while he's no longer a fixture on reality television, the president apparently views each day in the West Wing as a TV show of sorts.
But it's the first lady's choice of shows that seem especially revelatory, and her love of two mainstream shows surprisingly relatable, especially considering she hasn't otherwise been very relatable during her husband's first year in office. She raised eyebrows during a trip to visit Houston following Hurricane Harvey, largely because of her choice of footwear. Trump's snakeskin-covered Manolo Blahnik heels were branded an "insensitive" choice to wear to an area besieged by high flood waters.
In the months since, however, Melania has made more of an effort to be seen as down-to-earth. In early December, for instance, she returned to Texas, making headlines when she stopped at fast-food chain Whataburger for lunch with Karen Pence.
But it doesn't seem that the creators of the first lady's favored television shows share a mutual respect for the current administration. The creator of Empire, Lee Daniels, has said that the country is “in difficult times" due to Trump:
This man is where he is — he’s a reflection of who we are. He is our karma. I’m trying to explain this to my son. It’s hard to be a dad and hard to be a black dad.” Daniels has said, however, that Trump could prove to be a boon for artists, noting that he "couldn't sleep" after the election but still managed to write "some of the best work I have ever done. I was in pain.
Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes hasn't minced words for the Trump presidency, either. During a presidential debate, Rhimes tweeted about Trump's comments on abortion. In separate tweets, she has called Trump disrespectful, "unAmerican," and a "hypocrite" for his disparaging comments about a Gold Star widow.