Why Netflix's Becoming Doesn't Feature Barack Obama More

Michelle Obama in Becoming documentary
(Image credit: (Netflix))

Over the eight years Barack Obama served as the 44th U.S. President, his wife Michelle found her voice both beside him and on her own. Following the Obama era, the couple have continued to be involved in the public space, such as through their deal with Netflix. A documentary about Michelle Obama called Becoming recently hit the platform, but the spotlight is firmly pointed on the former First Lady.

Becoming follows Michelle Obama during the 34-city book tour of her 2018 memoir of the same name, as she shares her personal journey of growing up in the south side of Chicago, college life, motherhood and other experiences. The documentary showcases Michelle inspiring Americans, especially young people of various backgrounds and visiting her family members along the way. Becoming director Nadia Hallgren discussed the choices made in the new Netflix film with these words:

We didn't feel like we needed to have people speaking to her story for her, she tells it from her perspective and she does it so well. The time when President Obama does come on the scene, it's just really fun to see them interacting with each other. They have a very playful and loving relationship, and I think some of those moments speak much louder than any words could express. Like that moment when they're leaving the arena during her tour and she asks him what he thought of the show. It's such a revealing moment of the type of relationship they have and it also talks to the point that even though she is who she is, she wants encouragement and reassurance from her husband and she really values his opinion.

While it might be expected for the former president to be at the center of Michelle’s story, Nadia Hallgren sought out to make a movie truly from the perspective of the First Lady. As Michelle explains in the documentary itself:

So little of who I am happened in those eight years. So much of who I was happened before.

Becoming includes moments of Michelle returning to her childhood home in Chicago and reflecting on the struggles she faced long before she married Barack and entered the White House. Barack Obama certainly does come up over the course of the film, such as when Michelle dives into the personal attacks the former president received as the U.S. leader.

The new documentary has received positive reviews from critics, who have collectively awarded the film a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Entertainment Weekly’s Kristen Baldwin called Michelle Obama “a natural storyteller – candid and witty, punctuating anecdotes with perfect pause-for-applause comic timing.” Other critics have applauded the film for highlighting Michelle’s side of things.

Barack Obama produced Becoming alongside Michelle following another collaboration with Netflix on the March documentary Crip Camp, which is about a New York summer camp that bred a group of activists who campaigned for disability rights. The Obamas will also produce the adaptation of sci-fi drama Exit West that explores refugee issues through a story about a city that has doors that can serve as portals to other places. Rogue One’s Riz Ahmed is set to star.

Becoming is available to stream on Netflix now. Check out what else is hitting the platform this month here.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.