Saturday, May 21

Waffles + Mochi Review – Michelle Obama’s Lovely Puppet Series | US television

TOThe first lady, Michelle Obama, received much criticism from cable television for her youth nutrition initiative, Let’s move!, which combined the gentle touch of the First Lady’s “mother-in-chief” personality with actual policies to combat childhood obesity and improve school lunches. The subsequent administration may have tarnished Obama’s legislative legacy, but soft power abounds in streaming services; The latest in the lucrative partnership between the Obama production of Higher Ground and Netflix is ​​Waffles + Mochi, a mostly charming and quirky children’s series in which two puppets explore, via a magical flying shopping cart, the world of food in its rosiest light.

Waffles + Mochi, created by Erika Thormahlen and Jeremy Konner, with episodes directed by Konner and Alex Braverman, plays as Sesame Street’s instructive human-puppet collaboration formula applied to nutritional and culinary literacy, with a touch of childish fantasy. Waffles (puppeteer Michelle Zamora) is a half-Yeti, half-frozen Eggos creature (with endearing waffles for ears), who speaks in the wordless sounds of her partner Mochi (a palm-sized puppet version of food Japanese). The duo are from “frozen food land” (a nod to diets that involve little or no cooking) and travel to a charmingly lively neighborhood grocery store in New York, where they aspire to get jobs sorting food. There they meet “Mrs. Or ”: Michelle cameo as a friendly neighbor, accompanied by a busy neurotic bee, keeping the charming personality of her years at the post office: laid-back, talkative, down-to-earth.

Each of the 10 episodes, which last 20 to 25 minutes, focus on a different base ingredient, from items like tomatoes, mushrooms, and corn to pantry staples including salt, herbs and spices, rice, pickles, and water. . Via the shopping cart, the puppets travel widely, from Peru to Japan to Oakland, to visit local chefs and big names recruited by Obama’s banner: Samin Nostrat from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat instructs on tomatoes, while José Andrés affectionately whips even gazpacho while dancing. The trips end with a generally unassailable lesson from Mrs. O: on moderation and reliance on taste (salt), for example, or patience (pickles), or how families, to put it in children speak, come in all shapes, sizes and colors. (rice also known as Mochi lineage).

Some of the parts, I suppose, will appeal to children, such as an animation of personalities of taste or a girl’s interpretation of a story about Ben Franklin rescuing the potato’s reputation in the 1700s, which plays as a very childish version. healthy. background of drunkenness for adults. But others, especially celebrity cross-promotion, seem designed for adults used to ad status being flagged; The show’s objective demo is unlikely to not care a bit with Netflix’s Queer Eye’s Tan France designing a potato (which ultimately needs no frills, the lesson is to value others for who they are), or a Sia number for a tomato in a chandelier era wig on the wrong identity (such as fruit or vegetable).

The episodes are a bit far-fetched, even for short attention spans, whizzing from place to place, cooking through a bit of instruction with little room for each segment to breathe; the potato episode, for example, whizzes past a Peruvian farm, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, Mars (cue the Martian), and the Queer Eye bit in less than 15 minutes. As a whole, the series embodies the many occasional peaks and valleys of Obama’s type of liberalism: a diverse cast that emphasizes inclusion, in a serious and upbeat tone, though generally based on the assumption that nutrition is more of an issue. of choice that of access. .

There’s good reason to be cynical about the crossover between politics and entertainment (and big dollars in streaming services), but it’s hard to fault a show that teaches kids to approach the foods they eat with curiosity, inclusion, and a dose of knowledge. previous. From taste to geography, the “blender dance” to a snippet in which a chef from Savannah, Georgia describes how his ancestors were forcibly brought to the United States to grow rice, Waffles + Mochi achieves over all the difficult balance between didacticism, age-appropriate messages and crazy fun.

Kids probably won’t go begging for a gazpacho or interested in award-winning restaurants or restaurants run by celebrities they probably don’t know. But Waffles + Mochi works when your pantry, filled with star ingredients, strives not for name recognition but for literacy, broadly interpreted: nutritional, geographic, emotional – a soup that anyone with an open heart can endorse.

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