Netflix: Barack and Michelle Obama announce details of series

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The former first couple signed the production deal last year

Barack and Michelle Obama have unveiled their first batch of projects in development with Netflix.

The diverse seven-title run from the Obamas Higher Grounds Production company addresses social and political activism.

It includes a film on early slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass, adapted from David W. Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography.

The former US president said he hoped to do more than “just entertain”.

He said the productions “will educate, connect and inspire us all,” by “touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights and much more”.

Mr. Obama and the former first lady signed a deal with the streaming service last year.

Chris Daly, professor of journalism at Boston University and author of Covering America: A Narrative History of Nation’s Journalism, said the Obamas have made “great cultural contribution” with their selections.

He views the inclusion of Blight’s biography on Douglass as particularly influential.

“Douglass is a towering figure of the 19th Century – runaway slave, abolitionist, journalist, public speaker, supporter of women’s rights, advocate of the ideal of ‘all rights for all’,” he said.

“As the most photographed subject of his time, Douglass was literally a model for a people emerging from subjugation and seeking the full measure of humanity”.

Other announcement highlights include:

  • American Factory – the opening release, a documentary from Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, addresses tensions over automation in Ohio. A Chinese billionaire opens a factory in a former General Motors plant and hires 2,000 people, but introduces controversial new working practices as “high-tech China clashes with working-class America”
  • Crip Camp – a documentary about the origins of the disability rights movement
  • Overlooked obituaries – an adaptation of the New York Times’ series about people whose deaths were not originally reported
  • Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents – a half-hour series exploring food, made for children
  • The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy – a series based on a book by Michael Lewis exploring the challenges facing American democracy, from cyber-hacking to fake news
  • Bloom – based in post-World War Two New York, the drama will explore the “barriers faced by women and by people of colour in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress”

Nicole Vassell, entertainment and features editor at Pride, told BBC News: “The Obamas have always used their public platforms for education and improvement.

“As the first black president and first lady of the United States, their legacy is undoubtedly something they’ve put a lot of thought into, and this looks like a great next step in keeping their messages alive.”

Release dates for the titles have not yet been confirmed.

In January the service announced it had surpassed 140 million subscribers, as part shift in the TV landscape toward on-demand viewing.

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