In preparation for this article, I googled reviews of Becoming, the new Netflix documentary that follows former first lady Michelle Obama’s 2018-19 book tour of the same name.
What met me was surprising. Some critics in the US had called it “routine” and “obligatory” and that it by-and-large, was a “watered-down polished and glossy look at the former first lady that took no political stance and had no meaningful message.”
But I couldn’t disagree more.
I decided to watch Becoming with my mum on Mother’s Day. I know that she is a huge fan of autobiographies — usually, the more depressing the better — and this would be a perfect after-lunch treat.
For me, the documentary held much more than longing for a “political message” (which I rarely care for with these sorts of things). Instead, it was an inspiring, uplifting and a true rags-to-riches story that gave small anecdotes into the life of one of the most famous women in the world.
It gave air to a beautiful love story, a humbling upbringing and also depicted the media portrayal of a woman who stood by her husband as he became the 44th President of the United States.
They had called her “hard” and “unrelatable” — but in actual fact, the media had gotten it so wrong.
During a book-signing, Obama is seen scribbling her signature while “fans” lose their breath in front of her. But she is humbled by it and handles it with grace.
“Look them in the eye. Take in the story,” she says and does so with every single person.
But it’s her story that is the most compelling. Her want to not be swept away by the “tsunami” that is her husband, former President Barack Obama.
“My relationship with Barack was all about partnership,” Obama says in a voiceover while photographs of the couple played.
“If I was going to have an equal voice, with this very opinionated man, I had to get myself up and set myself off to a place that I was confident that I was going to be his equal.”
“I knew he was a tsunami coming after me, and if I didn’t get my act together, I would be swept up,” she says. “I didn’t just want to be an appendage to his dreams.”
This quote made me cheer out loud and is the very reason that Obama is as popular as she is.
This woman, whose husband had the literal “top job”, aspired to be better, be more and be heard — and the documentary focused on just that.
But it also looked at other inspiring stories of young women that Obama met on her tour — in her true glittering style, she turned the spotlight on others who were also doing good in this world.
In one particular scene, we meet a student who didn’t know why she had been chosen to meet with the former first lady as part of a schools program.
Elizabeth Cervantes, a senior at high school, detailed how she “just” goes to school, does “whatever I have to do”, stays for one club and then goes to work.
“And why do you work?” Obama asked.
“My dad, he had an accident and he doesn’t work the way he used to. Helping him out in some way would make me feel good. Also, because I have three little brothers, everything that I do is for them. I go to work and I bring them food.”
“And she wonders why she is here,” Obama says.
This documentary is not only inspiring, but it gives viewers a chance to look at their own lives and evaluate how they too can do better.
As the world starts to reduce its isolation measures, I personally have taken stock of my own life.
And if you too have been doing any self-growth over the past few months, Obama’s Becoming is truly the documentary for you to see — and to believe in right now.
WATCH: The official trailer for Becoming.