After months of rumours, Netflix has confirmed that Barrack and Michelle Obama are signed on for an extended ‘storytelling partnership’ with the streaming service.
In a press release, Netflix confirmed that the Obamas have established their own studio, Higher Ground Productions. This will exclusively create their Netflix content.
The release also revealed the Obamas deal will include “a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.”
The move makes perfect sense for the Obamas. At the most recent count, Netflix had 125 million subscribers across 190 countries. That’s over twice as many followers as Donald Trump has on Twitter.
What have the Obamas said?
Speaking about the new partnership, Barack Obama said:
“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix. We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
Michelle Obama added:
“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”
What will come out of the Obama deal with Netflix?
Unfortunately, what isn’t clear is exactly what kind of content the former first family will be making.
Considering the deal covers almost every conceivable kind of television show, documentary, or movie, there’s still lots we don’t know.
However, when the rumours about the deal first started circulating, a there were a few ideas about what kinds of content the Obamas could be cooking up.
The original New York Times report revealing the deal, back in March, claimed to have spoken to an insider. This person explained some ideas that the Obamas are working with.
They claim the Obamas’ Netflix shows will not respond directly to Donald Trump or criticise political opponents.
Instead the overall plan is to shine a light on inspirational subjects. One idea is that Obama could moderate a talk show. This would be based around conversations that were of particular relevance to his presidency. This could include health care, voting rights, immigration, foreign policy, and climate change.
A short documentary shared by the Obama Foundation gave some clue as to how that might play out:
This week—50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed—@BarackObama and @RepJohnLewis sat down with a group of young men for an @MBK_Alliance roundtable to talk about Dr. King's legacy and the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in: https://t.co/Hdfsf3iuOs pic.twitter.com/Y0b0RpJ36D
— The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) April 4, 2018
Elsewhere, Michelle Obama may front a documentary series around issues she championed in the White House. These included nutrition and healthy-living.
How long until we see an Obama show on Netflix?
Given the time it takes to make television, it seems unlikely we’ll see a scripted television series from the Obamas in the near future.
However, an unscripted talk show could potentially come together quite quickly.
Either way, it seems reasonably likely we’ll see something from Higher Ground Productions sooner rather than later. Netflix has a track record of releasing things pretty quickly after announcing them.
For example, Stranger Things was released just 15 months after first being announced as a separate show called “Montauk”. That suggests the final scripts weren’t even in place when it was announced making the speedy turnaround even more impressive.
In addition, recent talk show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction launched just a week after being announced.
Either way, it’d be surprising if more details weren’t available within the next few months.