Barack Obama has entered his David Attenborough phase, just in time for Earth Day. Higher Ground, the film production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama with a multiyear deal with Netflix, released a new five-part docuseries earlier this month called “Our Great National Parks,” narrated by the former US president himself.
Visually, the series is exquisite. The choice to focus on national parks around the world was a smart one, both because it gives the project a unique angle in a crowded genre, and because Obama has a claim to fame when it comes to land conservation: As president, he added 22 new parks to the US National Park system and protected close to 550 million acres of habitat, more than any other US president in history. But the framing is also the series’ fatal flaw; at times, it seems Obama is taking a five-hour victory lap—not necessarily for his own conservation work, but for humanity’s. Of course, climate change is mentioned, but minimally; to say less about the crisis facing the world would verge on climate misinformation. And compared to other recent nature docuseries, like “Our Planet,” “Our Great National Parks” is downright regressive.