The season premiere of the CBS All Access drama The Good Fight imagines a world in which Trump was never elected, that all the badness of the last four years were merely a bad dream suffered by liberal Chicago lawyer Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski. (This ties into the new Michelle Obama documentary, I swear. Just hang in there.)
Relieved to wake up in a present day in which Hillary Clinton is in charge and Donald Trump is nothing more than the head of a propaganda cable news channel, she recounts the litany of atrocities the nation endured in her “fictional” nightmare MAGA scenario. After she finishes, her bewildered colleague asks, “And where were the Obamas in all this?” In a brilliant, cutting deadpan, Lockhart announces, “They had an overall deal with Netflix.”
It’s true that the former president and first lady haven’t been the outwardly public—and outwardly angry—figures some expected, or wanted, them to be in the #resistance years following Trump’s 2016 election. That Netflix deal referenced—and scrutinized—in The Good Fight may be among their most visible public-facing contributions, developing and releasing sociopolitical documentaries like American Factory and Crip Camp under their Higher Ground production banner.
The release of Becoming this Wednesday, centering around Michelle Obama’s event book tour and conversation series in support of her bestselling memoir, should garner its fair amount of curious eyeballs, whether from those craving the nostalgic solace of 90 minutes spent back in the world of the Obamas or those parsing it for messaging or criticism of the Trump administration and the current powder-keg cultural climate.
Directed by Nadia Hallgren, Becoming offers some of that. But, more often, its interest is how Michelle Obama feels about those expectations of her.
While traveling the country and taking the temperature of how citizens, or at least her supporters, feel about things—“The energy out there is much better than what we see. I wish people didn’t feel badly because this country is good. People are good. People are decent.”—she grapples with her role going forward in guiding a way through it.