MiNDFOOD reviews ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’


Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama has officially launched her eponymous podcast on Spotify.

It’s the first project from Higher Ground, the media production company founded by President Barack Obama and Michelle, with the podcast created for Spotify under their exclusive multiyear pact announced in June 2019.

The series features the former first lady’s conversations with friends, family and allies, focusing on “the relationships that shape us, from siblings and close friends to partners, parents and mentors to our relationship with ourselves and our health”.

It was only natural that the first episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast feature Barack Obama – when your husband is one of the world’s most famous men, you’re going to take advantage of that!

But Michelle’s first choice of guest is also significant considering it’s a podcast that delves into the relationships that shape us – it’s wonderful to be able to gain insight into Michelle and Barack’s romantic partnership, even though marriage is not the topic of conversation.

There’s plenty of delightful banter between husband and wife – the episode is filled with that truly infectious affection many of us are addicted to when it comes to these two. They mention towards the end of the episode that their chatter is similar to what you might experience at the Obama dinner table. It’s thoughtful and intelligent discussion, but filled with so much love. As we live through a year of uncertainty and negativity, hearing the warmth between Barack and Michelle provides some much-needed respite.

But as mentioned, marriage isn’t the focus of this episode. Rather, Michelle and Barack discuss their upbringing, and how their relationships to family and community shaped who they are today.

There’s a bit of assumed knowledge here about their childhoods, and I suspect some things would be immediately clearer had I read Michelle’s book Becoming. But essentially, Barack and Michelle discuss how a communal upbringing influenced their values and propelled them to care about the wider community, and prompted them to do work that could impact that community.

They despair about an ‘every man for himself’ mentality that that seems to be pervasive today, and wonder how we can embrace the values they cherish from their childhood and make them work for everybody. Barack and Michelle largely steer clear of current politics, but they do bring their discussions back to the importance of voting – a pet topic for Michelle. The couple appeal to disillusioned voters as well as idealistic young people, and say while there are many ways we can make change on our own, there are still so many things we rely on government for; hence urging even the most cynical of government critics to vote at the upcoming election.

It’s an interesting listen, and like I say, made all the more enjoyable by the strength of Barack and Michelle’s relationship. But is it groundbreaking?

The hardest part of introducing a new podcast is coming up with the idea – you can be the most engaging person in the world, but these days it’s hard to cut through unless you have a solid concept.

The theme of ‘relationships’ seems somewhat insubstantial – but then again, we’re only at episode one. And it’s very possible they are easing us in with something familiar and palatable by having Michelle chat with Barack.

I’m not completely convinced I’ll listen for the duration of the series yet – I’ll see what the next episode brings, and make my decision thereafter.


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