Barack Obama, former president of the United States of America, is the unlikely narrator of a new Netflix wildlife documentary series – and it might be the most inspired bit of casting that the streaming giant has made in a while.
Our Great National Parks, which makes its Netflix TV show debut on April 13, will see Obama discussing the wonders of protected wilderness spaces across the globe and the animal inhabitants they contain. Monterey Bay in California, Tsavo National Park in Kenya, and the rainforests of Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia are all set to feature. Oh, and some sloths:
Who doesn’t love a good sloth?
You can check out the first trailer below:
“A fish that can walk. Surfing hippos that want to catch the waves. Species found nowhere else on earth,” says Obama. “When humanity started to protect these wild places, we did not realize how important they would become: They’re a haven for endangered species, and a hotbed for scientific research.”
A trusted voice – and natural Attenborough successor?
The five-part series was first announced in February 2021, and was part of a slew of programming Netflix signed from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground Productions.
It’s already proved a successful partnership between the two companies, bearing fruit in the shape of kids shows Ada Twist, Scientist, and Waffles + Mochi. The Oscar-winning documentary American Factory, Michelle Obama’s memoir adaptation Becoming, and the award winning Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, are also part of the Obama family's back catalog.
But the move to make Obama a spokesperson for the natural world is a delightful one.
There’s no arguing against who the king of television is when it comes to the natural world. That’s British naturalist David Attenborough, who has done more over the decades to educate the world on the delights and plights of the animals across the globe, and the danger their habitats are in. Starting his broadcasting career with the BBC, Attenborough has also recently developed (and featured in) shows for the likes of Sky and Netflix.
After a phenomenal career (that shows no signs of slowing, to be fair), a successor to the 95 year old Attenborough would be a great win for any network – not to mention a world of animal enthusiasts looking to learn how best to protect our planet’s co-inhabitants.
Obama is a natural choice – at least, for a streaming giant like Netflix. The former president may not have the zoological experience of Attenborough, but he’s a trusted public figure. His Green New Deal was only partially successful, too, but was a step in the right direction for awareness surrounding climate change and humanity's environmental impact. Our Great National Parks even shares an executive producer from Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, so viewers will know it's in good hands from a production standpoint. He’s also got a great voice perfect for placing over awe-inspiring footage of nature. In our view, Netflix could do worse than to install Obama as its long-term Attenborough replacement.