If you've tuned into a talk show recently, odds are you've caught a glimpse of First Lady Michelle Obama, who's been granting a slew of light-hearted interviews to promote her Let's Move fitness initiative, her campaign on behalf of military families, and, above all, herself. Perhaps it's an effort to combat her portrayal as an "angry black woman" in Jodi Kantor's controversial book The Obamas, or a move to make herself more relatable to voters as her husband's re-election campaign kicks into high gear. Regardless, Michelle Obama has danced, hula hooped, and joked through a series of "charming" media appearances over the past month. Here, a video roundup of the highlights:
1. A potato sack race with Jimmy Fallon
In a pre-taped segment that aired on Tuesday night's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the funnyman visits Mrs. Obama at the White House, where she challenges him to a series of schoolyard games: A push-up contest, a tug-of-war, a hula hoop rivalry, a dodgeball session, and a potato sack race. "Not only did the first lady dominate in the athletics department," says Michael Arbeiter at Hollywood, but the segment required a fair amount of comedy on her part. Hilariously, "she also proved more than adept at smack talk." After the segment aired, Fallon assured his audience: "Michelle Obama is the coolest."
2. A push-up contest against Ellen DeGeneres
"How many push-ups can you do?" DeGeneres asked the first lady earlier this week. "Because I like to do a push-up." Soon enough, the two hit the floor for a one-on-one push-up contest. (Obama won with 25.) The impressive physical feat proves that "FLOTUS practices what she preaches," says Lauren Daniels at TIME. "It's an impressive show of strength and originality," agrees Jessica Grose at Slate. Could you imagine the "pearl-wearing, perfect" Barbara Bush "engaging in a televised push-up competition with an out-and-proud lesbian on national TV?"
3. Making Jay Leno eat his veggies
Like any good guest, the first lady showed up for her Tonight Show appearance bearing gifts. Unfortunately for health-food-averse host Jay Leno, Mrs. Obama brought a smorgasbord of low-cal snacks, including apples, sweet potato fries, and a veggie pizza with wheat crust. (She eventually cajoled him into a few nibbles.) As charming as the spot was, says Verne Gay at Newsday, Leno could at least have tried to get the first lady talking about a more serious topic.
4. Discussing Malia's dating life with Rachael Ray
Mrs. Obama was all charm with Rachael Ray, says Cassie Murdoch at Jezebel. She winningly evaded Ray's question about daughter Malia's dating life — "one thing I've learned is that a 13-year-old wants nothing more than to not have her mother talk about her personal life on national TV" — but offered one adorable detail about how the president is handling the new development. "It's already fun to see him squirming when she puts on a dress and she's got her hair down," Mrs. Obama said. "He's trying to pretend like it's cool, but he's freaking out a little bit."
5. "Random dancing" on iCarly
The first lady shot an episode of the hit Nickelodeon comedy iCarly in January as put of her campaign to highlight the needs of military families. (The show's teenaged title character has a father in the military.) Mrs. Obama thanked Carly for supporting military families, and agreed to appear on the character's web series — even its trademark "Random Dancing" segment. Though Mrs. Obama initially seemed reluctant to embrace her very public role in the White House, says Devin Dwyer at ABC News, she clearly relishes it now.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- Face it, ladies: We can't all be beautiful
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
Subscribe to the Week