Rated Greg’s Top 5 TV Shows of 2018 (thus far)
- Cobra Kai – Season 1
- The Americans – Season 6
- Atlanta – Season 2
- Vanderpump Rules – Season 6
- Dark – Season 1
The best show on TV isn’t on HBO or Netflix. It’s not on Showtime, or FX, or Hulu, or Amazon Prime. It’s not on AMC, it’s not on Starz, and it’s definitely not on broadcast TV. Not Cinemax. Not Sundance. Not Crackle. It’s not on Shudder, or Dickface, or Freeform, or even Bravo (do you know which one I made up?). No, the best show on TV is on Youtube. It’s called Cobra Kai. Have you heard about Cobra Kai? Have I texted you about Cobra Kai yet? Have I cornered you at a bar to talk about Cobra Kai yet? No? Ok, stay with me here.
It’s easy to be VERY skeptical of a Karate Kid reboot these days, what with seemingly everything from our childhood being brought back into popular culture in some form or another with minimal actual use for it (how have the Perfect Strangers not gotten in on this?). For the most part it all just seems stale and sad. Why would a check in on the Karate Kid THIRTY-FOUR years later be any different? For one thing the two main actors, Ralph Macchio and Billy Zabka, haven’t been in anything since this heights of this franchise, unless you count playing themselves in separate cameos on Entourage and How I Met Your Mother, respectively. And the other thing, the show is on Youtube Red. WTF is Youtube Red? Who wants to sign up for yet another streaming service? Shouldn’t they just stick to movie trailers and those funny sports lip sync bits?
Anyways, I was just as skeptical as you are right now. But then I saw the trailer for Cobra Kai…… and you know what it looked fairly promising! And then I noticed Bill Simmons and Shea Serrano tweeting nice things about it. And finally I realized the first two episodes are free on Youtube. Ok what the hell I guess I HAD to check it out, after all Rated Greg has seen the original Karate Kid more times than any other movie in his lifetime. If he could withstand an awful Point Break remake, he can handle this and brush it off if it sucked.
Well….in a whisper…….Cobra Kai didn’t suck. In fact, the first two episodes didn’t just not suck, but they were pretty good! Good enough for me to actually sign up for Youtube Red (which was way more confusing to figure out than it should be btw), knowing that I could watch the eight remaining episodes for free as long as I cancelled within 30 days. Diving deeper into the modern day All Valley, I kept expecting the rest of series to run out of steam but it was quite the opposite, each installment becoming better than the last. Certainly the most surprising thing is that Cobra Kai has the production value of equal or even better than a lot of the Netflix options. It became clear to me that maybe this wasn’t a show that all the streaming giants passed on after all, but rather something that Youtube probably threw a lot of money at in order to step up their game in original content. Good for them. It’s still annoying as hell that this isn’t on Netflix, but it’s a barrier of entry that I will definitely pay for when the already announced Season 2 is released, if just for that given month.
10 More, Non-Spoiler Things I Liked About Cobra Kai:
- I liked that they took the antagonist of the original and completely turned him into the sympathetic figure decades later. One of the running jokes of the sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was that Barney Stinson always assumed that Johnny Lawrence was the actual Karate Kid, not Daniel-san. But it in the end it was a joke, an SNL skit in a way……whereas the creators of Cobra Kai absolutely pull this premise off. Don’t believe me? Just watch this clip.
- Despite turning Johnny into the protagonist, they didn’t turn Daniel LaRusso into a full fledged villain, which was the right call. But they did give him JUUUUST enough asshole tendencies that a self-made hot shot car dealer in southern California might have developed, especially one that managed to not have one friend his own age in high school for some reason.
- They didn’t make this grumpy old men. While Johnny and Daniel-san crossing paths once more is the jumping off point of the series, at least half if not more of the series is devoted to a new class of high school kids intertwined within the old rivals’ lives.
- The fact that Johnny exclusively drinks Coors Banquet. I guess Youtube needed to pay for that production value somehow.
- They’re constantly referring to and showing footage from the 1984 original. That along with the same musical cues is a crane kick to the face full of nostalgia.
- In case you were curious, you can curse on Youtube Red.
- It appears that the new class of karate kids actually know how to fight.
- Except for the finale, each episode is under 30 minutes.
- The character “Hawk”.
- The aforementioned second season on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Cobra Kai is heavily dependent on one’s appreciation for the 1984 Karate Kid. If you grew up with that movie then you’re pretty much guaranteed to like this. If it was before or after your time, I still believe you’ll think this show is “cute” at the bare minimum, but you probably won’t fully get it.