(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Cobra Kai
Where You Can Stream It: YouTube Premium
The Pitch: Decades after their 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament bout, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence find themselves martial-arts rivals again.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: This is a show that, by all accounts, shouldn’t have been great. It’s produced on a low budget for YouTube’s failed premium original Netflix competitor and features a bunch of actors from the 1980s reprising roles their childhood. The series presents a legacy-quel to The Karate Kid, but imagined from the point of view of the film’s villain Johnny Lawrence (played by the great William Zabka). We’ve heard time and time again that there are two sides to every story. Now imagine that the classic Karate Kid story was only Daniel’s view of the events.
That’s not to say that Johnny Lawrence wasn’t a bully, and Cobra Kai wasn’t an evil karate dojo — but maybe there is a lot more subtlety to this tale? What becomes of Lawerence and LaRusso when they’re middle-aged? How will the wins and sins of the fathers affect on the sons and daughters they have created? And how will the coming of age journeys of these teenagers change their parents? The series is shockingly more nuanced than you might ever expect to come from a film like The Karate Kid.
What makes this series so compelling is that just when you think you have it figured out, it sweeps the leg and pulls a swerve. I’ve watched the first season of this series half a dozen times – that’s how much I enjoyed it. The second season isn’t as good as the first, but it leaves the story in a very compelling place for the third installment.
This isn’t the first time I’ve pitched this series to you the /Film readers. I have been very outspoken about how enjoyable this series is. I get it, you still have to pay for a YouTube premium subscription and who wants to pay that? But you can watch the first two episodes of the first season right now, and if you take a chance on the third episode, you’ll be hooked. Plus, you have all the time in the world during this quarantine, so you have no excuse. You’ll thank me later.
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