Imagine being an intern in the television industry. You’ve been at it for two years and nobody wants to listen to your screenplay pitch. It’s about a regular guy named Mark who, one morning, wakes up as a T-Rex. It’s going to be great kid, keep trying.
The majority of your last twenty-four months have been spent fetching coffee for sleazy executives and producers. You hate it, because they’re the worst people, but you really want this. So you try extra hard to remember their no-foam de-caff half and half caffeinated cap. With sprinkles.
Then, just as you’re about to give up all hope on anyone reading Jurassic Mark, a different pair of producers walk into the office building and set up residence. They’re tall, charming from the get-go and are more than happy to smile as you pitch your dinosaur themed body-swap movie. They politely decline, but they at least listen.
Also, you think you might know them from somewhere. They had a starring role in “the news” for about eight or so years.
President Obama and his wife Michelle have signed a deal with Netflix to produce original content for the streaming service. The exact nature of that content has a pretty vague description, with yesterday’s statement reading that the deal includes potentially making “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.”
So pretty much everything other than a stand-up special.
It’s a perfect move for the couple. Clinton had his sax and George Bush Jr had his hideous paintings. It just so happens that the latest ex-commander in chief has a penchant for digital media.
I’ve seen a lot of articles joke about the programming that the Obamas could make, such as Orange is the New Barack or Barack Mirror. Which I think are ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. Get it?! Because his name is Barack Obama and the word ‘Black’ sounds just like his first name? Oh man. Wow, such pure genius…
I want to speculate on the kind of content we should see from the Obamas. This very much sounds like it’s going to be in list-form so yes, dear reader, have yourself a delicious clickbait title.
6 Shows or Movies That The Obamas Should Produce At Netflix, Number 3 Is So Shocking You’ll Want To Cry Rectangles!
1. A Family Sitcom
They’re perhaps the least interesting of the sitcom sub-genres. With the all-time greats being made back in the 50s, greats that we can’t even go back and watch because the 50s were a very (very) racist time in America. The 80s tried to revive the genre with shows like Roseanne and The Cosby Show, which…also became awkward viewing.
Let’s face it, the best American sitcoms have never been in a family setting. But they’re a staple of American culture, and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. With Roseanne back on our screens as an out-and-out Trump supporter, I think we need a counter-balance to what represents the average American family.
Which, sidenote, that’s not satire by the way. Having a satirical, ageing Trump supporter would provide plenty of comedic moments, and I agree that the character of Roseanne would’ve been a Trump supporter. But the show always seems to have Roseanne get the last word in every argument. Which, when it comes to politics, is dangerous.
Make the new family sitcom meta. Make it about a group of actors who play a family on a family sitcom. The genre is dying in favour of work and friend based sitcoms, so we may as well pull the curtain back a little on the whole genre.
Most important of all, make it diverse. Modern Family nearly hit the mark, except everyone was upper middle-class. Sitcoms traditionally have their pulse on where America is at, and America is a brilliant mix of people from all walks of life. It shouldn’t be diverse for the sake of it, but diverse because America is.
2. A Docu-series
Personally, I want the Obamas to produce and champion ideas that revolve around other people. However, if Netflix forces their hand, due to the strength of the Obama brand, then I want them to put their faces on a show that educates.
I’d want an Obama-narrated educational documentary series with zero political spin. Having had conversations with Americans, I think there are gaps in their knowledge of how government works. Or how it’s supposed to work. I know that I personally need a better understanding on a lot of areas of political systems in the USA.
A well-educated electorate is something that the Obamas have always championed. They could narrate episodes centred on the house of representatives, how the electoral college works and what special interest groups are. They could openly and candidly discuss how political campaigns are funded. What’s legal and what’s not legal. They’d all be facts, facts that are written into American law.
Again, zero spin would be the key. Often when you present the truth as bare bones, it speaks for itself. Hard-right conservatives would criticise it as a left-leaning look into politics, but something I’ve found is that the honest truth happens to always land you slightly left of centre. Which makes you think.
3. Alternative Voices
This isn’t genre specific, more the kinds of content creators that I would expect the Obamas to champion. This can include looking to minority groups for writers and directors, but it doesn’t always have to. I, as a consumer of media, just want something different. Show me a perspective that I haven’t seen before.
More often than not that will end up including a female voice, or a non-white voice, or an LGBT+ voice. Which has nothing to do with inclusivity for the sake of it. It’s more that the scales are simply balancing. SWM’s have been producing the majority of content for so long that any voice other than our own feels different and exciting.
I want to live in a world where we don’t need to tout the ethnic background or sexual orientation of a content creator. I want to live in world where we talk about the voice of the writer, the emotive talent of the actor or the visual style of the director, no matter who they are.
We’re not there yet, but I believe that the Obamas can help to balance the scales.
4. A Fantasy Epic
Yes, we have Game of Thrones and Amazon are working on a Middle-Earth TV series, but there’s always room in the fantasy genre for more. The only limits to world-building are our imaginations. Which sounds crass, because it is.
The Obamas are famously fans of the hit HBO show, with one of the producers commenting back in 2016 that “the president wanted advanced copies of the episodes.” Whether or not HBO obliged has been kept a secret, but to even make a request like this shows that the Obamas are as addicted to the fantasy genre as we are.
Game of Thrones is steeped in historical and political commentary, it’s part of what makes the show so great. I’d like to see the Obamas produce an epic fantasy series, set in an entirely fictional world, that provides a social commentary on modern living.
It could be that the characters talk about how a great evil was defeated eighty years ago, but now it’s slowly seeping back into their towns and villages. It’s infecting the minds of the people, and it turns out it’s a group of dark wizards who’ve created potions that make the drinker believe anything they’re told. It’s a Crafty Fox Potion etc.
That’s not at all subtle, but you get my point. I’ve never seen fantasy as pure escapism, but rather an alternative universe in which to tell very human stories.
5. The Daily Show
This is more of a plea to give new life to a specific brand. Back in the UK, during my teenage years, I was lucky enough to be able to watch the latest episodes of The Daily Show on an eighteen hour tape delay. Which, at the time, was pretty current.
Comedy Central have always been half-decent at championing original comedy, but fewer and fewer members of our generation pay for cable, let alone watch broadcast television. I think if the brand was acquired by Netflix, and produced by the Obamas, it could help boost viewership. As well as aiding in the aim for Netflix to produce more “live, ongoing” original content.
Trevor Noah does an excellent job and he’d be a great host to at least establish the first year on a new platform. In recent times Last Week Tonight has, rightfully, taken the place in the public consciousness that The Daily Show once had.
Trust me, in a Trumpian world there’s definitely room for two well-made and well-researched satirical entertainment shows. With the right backing, Daily Show clips could go viral in the same way that LWT clips do. Although they would have to wait until Trevor Noah’s contract with Comedy Central ends, in 2022. If we’re all still here.
This really could be produced by anyone, but imagine sitting through twenty-two minutes of biting satire only to see the credit: Produced by Michelle Obama. Conservatives are already under the assumption that these shows have a bias, when typically they simply present facts and sprinkle in jokes. So why not enrage them further by adding an Obama to the production staff?
6. The Apprentice Rip-Off
Come on now.
Keep all of the filming secret and under-wraps. Zero promotion, it just drops on Netflix on a random Tuesday morning. No pre-title sequence. Just open on Barack Obama walking into a room of twelve prospective business partners, with a knowing smile on his face.
“Now, I’ve devoted my life to serving the American people the best that I can. I consider myself a public servant, not a businessman. But apparently anyone can do anything now, so here we are, welcome to Not The Apprentice!”
20 Million people stream and old Donald quits the White House in order to battle Obama in a ratings war. Trump is back in the realm where he belongs and Obama has somehow managed to save the day, again.
Today is May 22nd, 2018 and there’s a tiny part of me that now wants to write Jurassic Mark.