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Netflix Challenges Audible by Stealing One of Its Biggest Stars

So what does it feel like to have your lunch delivered by a former U.S. president?

That may sound like a strange question, but there are some people who know exactly what that feels like after having their midday meals brought to them by Barack Obama.

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The presidential delivery service appears in a segment of Working: What We Do All Day, a Netflix limited series from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions media company.

“I enjoyed meeting these folks and hearing their stories about work,” Obama tweeted. “Take a look at this preview, and watch Working: What We Do All Day now on Netflix.”

The Working series was inspired by the 1974 nonfiction book “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do” by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Studs Terkel.

Sharing the Stories of Working People

Told through oral history, the book chronicled over 100 everyday Americans of the era, their jobs and how employment impacted their lives.

“As a college student, I was inspired by Studs Terkel’s book, Working, which chronicled what ordinary people did for a living,” Obama tweeted. “Working: What We Do All Day from @HGMedia is a new series that builds on that idea – sharing the stories of people from different walks of life, and giving you a window into the jobs they do every day.”

Working applies the spirit of Terkel’s book to contemporary times, Netflix said, focusing on three different industries: home care, tech and hospitality, and shares the stories of 12 people.

“We wanted to show how work looks totally different, depending on what kind of work you do,” director Caroline Suh said.

The series also explores the impact of automation on the gig economy.

“We wanted to show how work looks totally different, depending on what kind of work you do,” director Caroline Suh said.

She noted that working on this series made her realize there’s a less tangible quality that stands out across industries and employment levels.

‘Beauty in a Job Well Done’

“There’s beauty in any job that’s done well,” Suh said. “There’s a positive affirmation there about the world, when you see someone doing a job well, no matter what it is.”

A review in Time said the series was timely, but uneven, adding that “if only Obama and the rest of the team behind this project worried enough to be clearer about the causes—and particularly the culprits—of the inequality Working documents.”

Variety said Obama’s “star power overpowers the worthwhile message” of the series. 

“It’s Obama’s job to put these disparities in context and advance a narrative about what work is and should be,” Variety’s Allison Herman wrote. “He does this principally via voiceover, which alternates between generic outtakes from a standard Democratic stump speech (a middle-class life is “a great — maybe the great — American idea”) and pocket histories accompanied by animation and stock footage.”

 “Compared to the nuance of the real lives surveyed by Suh and her producers, such summaries can be reductive,” Herman said.

Last June, the Obamas left the digital music streaming service Spotify and headed over to Amazon’s  (AMZN) – Get Free Report Audible in an exclusive multiyear first-look production deal with Higher Ground.

The Obamas and Spotify had decided not to extend their exclusive podcast partnership beyond the end of 2022.

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