Barack Obama Explained Why He And Michelle Are Making Netflix Shows Now

By locking in big TV creators such as Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes, Netflix once again proved its dedication to bringing subscribers as much popular and mainstream fare as independently produced shows. But it was a different situation when the streaming giant confirmed its development deal with ex-First Couple Barack and Michelle Obama. The former publicly spoke about the Netflix partnership and shared why he and Michelle made this large and interesting jump from politics to informational entertainment. In his words:

We want to tell stories. This [Netflix deal] becomes a platform. We are interested in lifting people up and identifying people doing amazing work. We did this in the White House. For instance, the very first time Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the first song in Hamilton was at the White House at a poetry slam we did.

Netflix's big deal with Barack and Michelle Obama was first rumored back in March, at which point it was posed that the programming they would be creating would lean away from politics and fall into the other social interests the couple have promoted over the years. And when speaking about those future projects at a tech conference in Las Vegas (via Business Insider), Obama really hammered home how focused they are on getting to the heart of the country by telling the vast and varied stories of its many different citizens. With part of the point being to inform, of course, but also to bring people together, which Netflix is able to do in a way that few entertainment outlets can. (Even if "being together" in this case technically consists of "enjoying the same content while many miles apart.")

No stranger to appearing in front of the camera on talk shows and other projects, Barack Obama most recently sat across from late night legend David Letterman for the host's chat series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, where he got to share many a story about his life and legacy. And during the tech conference, he stated that he wouldn't have made it to the Presidency had he not long-grasped the importance of stories. With the Netflix deal, they're looking for others with equally interesting and eye-opening tales. He went on to say this:

[I imagine we'll produce stories] we think are important, and lift up and identify talent, that can amplify the connections between all of us. I continue to believe that if we are hearing each other's stories and recognizing ourselves in each other, then our democracy works. We are all human. I know this sounds trite, and yet, right now globally, we have competing narratives.

Barack Obama, who is the subject of another TV project that may one day come to life, aims to bring opposing sides of the country together with this new deal, which certainly won't be an easy feat. (I mean, at least it's not Upside Down creatures, right?) But if anyone is going to have the abundant resources to come anywhere near making harmony a reality, it's going to be Netflix and a former world leader. And if Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted to get involved, that could only help.

At this time, the projects are assumedly just now starting to take shape, so it's rather impossible to know when Netflix will debut its first series and documentaries from Barack and Michelle Obama. In the meantime, our 2018 Netflix schedule and our summer premiere schedule will clue you in on everything coming to streaming and elsewhere soon, such as Matt Groening's new animated series.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.