As someone who’s never been into traditional competitive sports, less mainstream types of competition really appeal to me. What I love about Netflix’s We Are The Champions is that it never patronises or makes fun of the underdogs and eccentrics that populate the events it features; even better, by the end of every episode you’ve found someone to root for and you’re genuinely cheering them on to succeed.
Rainn Wilson’s commentary is lovely, warm-hearted and occasionally sprinkled with a gentle expletive or two. Episodes focus on Cheese Rolling, Dog Dancing, Frog Jumping, Chilli Eating, Yo-Yo and Fantasy Hairstyling. Not all are as eccentric or far out as you’d expect – Yo-Yo and Dog Dancing seem pretty mainstream in comparison to the other events featured – but all are likely to feature events that you’ve never actually seen play out, unless you’ve stumbled into some odd corners of YouTube or you’re from one of the locations featured. Competitors in Cheese Rolling, for example, become real local celebrities – and in Yo-Yo, those adept at spinning the toy around in some frankly dizzying movements as they perform elaborate tricks are rightly lauded for their skills the world over.
The underdog in each competition doesn’t always win. Nor does the favourite. There’s some absolutely nail-biting moments in every single episode. Before watching, you’d never have thought that you could be on the very edge of your seat watching a Cheese Rolling race unfold in slow motion, but the show does an absolutely superb job of bringing you up to speed on the traditions, rules, history and rivalries of each event it focuses on that you’re soon drawn in.
Every episode ends with a little monologue that reminds us that we’re all champions. It’s wonderfully uplifting stuff. Though you may initially be watching to point and laugh at the strange people doing odd things, by the end you’re right there with them. Go watch it – it’s fantastic.
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