Netflix has released yet another unbelievable reality show, which focuses on ridiculous and offbeat competitions and their winners. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS (2020) has had viewers buzzing over the series’ outlandish tournaments and the tenacity that the diverse contestants bring to them. The series has been steadily gaining popularity over social media, with most saying it’s a “must-stream,” especially considering whose hand has brought it to our screens.
Produced and narrated by Rainn Wilson, known for his role as Dwight in THE OFFICE (2005- 2013), the series travels across the globe to feature cheese rolling, chili eating, dog dancing, fantasy hairstyling, yo-yoing, and frog jumping. Lighthearted in tone, audiences meet competitors and fans, gaining glimpses into the serious training that some individuals put into their sport. As silly as each competition may seem, it is clear that each one has passionate participants, some of them dedicating their entire lives and careers to their craft, or even their bodies. The series achieves balance between serious competition and uplift, especially when viewers see both happy winners and losers.
Each episode has its grand opening, which at first comes off as a serious dissection, but is actually very tongue-in-cheek or ironic in tone. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, however, is not making fun of its subjects- quite the opposite, actually. These competitions should be fun in spirit, and while no one likes losing, these tournaments are showcased through a lens that satisfies the most basic human need- a community that accepts every participant for who they are and celebrates their excellence. Each episode is bookended with a glimpse of the community’s supporters and an inspirational monologue, replete with puns; each is satisfying not because any particular person won or lost (although those moments are present), but because within each competition there is an all-embracing sense of camaraderie. What better feeling is there than to have a weird talent that is appreciated by many? Because at its heart, the series is a celebration of all of us and all our weird, quirky talents.
While social issues are addressed, they are handled through celebration of achievement more than anything else, bolstering the show’s feel-good attitude. Approaching challenges or issues in this way makes contestants’ successes (and even their losses) all the more fulfilling and inspiring, while the puns and ironic narration keep the tone light. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS has proven itself well-produced and executed, and while it’s still too early to tell if the docuseries will have a second season, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t. Across the board, Wilson’s quirky piece has seen praise and with a year like 2020, it’s safe to say audiences deserve some positivity and inspiration.