I haven’t given a shit about the Karate Kid franchise since I was six, and I still don’t. That said, Cobra Kai looks fucking amazeballs. The martial arts genre is elementally appealing to our bad selves. The main character has a problem, gets their ass beat, and has to overcome through rigorous training montages and lots of cool-looking fights.

This show has all that stuff, and the original movie gives it a depth of a backstory you can feel in an unexpectedly cool way. Plus the setting is real. Aside from the bougie Californiana aspects, it’s the world as I know it – strip malls and TV installation and shitty convenience stores. It looks and feels EXACTLY like the real American martial arts story I’ve wanted to see for years.

Now for the Argh factor. Right from the first episode, we get the ableism and appeals to conservative horseshit. They’re pretty softball examples of that, but any at all is more than I should have to deal with in my life, in my entertainment. As my new category says, fuck any and all conservatives everywhere forever.

The ableism takes the form of a cliche so crusty it’s like baklava – a dude throwing away someone’s asthma inhaler, calling the condition made up. They immediately have a guy say, “that’s nonsense, that’s a real health problem,” but it’s just a half-assed lampshade because we never see the kid need the inhaler after that.

The big question – what do the show’s producers believe? Would I want those people to have my money? I can do the free trial of Youtube Red, but then I’m giving google my credit card information and gotta be johnny-on-the-spot canceling or get dinged. Hassle.

I don’t know. I watched the free episodes, except as noted I’m liking what I’m seeing, but should I bite? I’m genuinely looking for opinions and input on this one. Crudlords, if you’re seeing this, tell me if you liked it, so I can skip it. I’ll skim my trash filter for a few days to see if you’re there. The rest of whoever, comment below.

I can skip the show! In the comments on a review elsewhere, there was this gem. Thanks, “jbrisby”! You are everything wrong with the human species and your kind will be our extinction, but you helped me avoid wasting an assload of time on cultural sewage.

“Finally, an unapologetically sympathetic portrayal of a conservative point of view. This is the show Roseanne promised, but never delivered. This is going to be a huge smash, because as we saw with Trump, there’s a massive untapped audience who is sick to death of our pansy-ass modern culture, that cloaks itself in tolerance but is in fact tremendously repressive and saps us of our real strength. This show, like Trump, works because people are fundamentally fed up. And the best part is, I haven’t seen a single liberal reviewer who gets it. It really slips in under their radar! They love it…but they don’t know why!”


  1. lanir says

    Hmm. I haven’t watched this. As a general thing, I pick apart the stupid nonsense that stands out to me when I watch something. I’m interested in stories because I find narratives and how they’re built interesting. So I’ll sometimes keep going on a conservative narrative just to see how it’s put together and whether or not it falls apart. Academic interest, I guess.

    The ones that I find distasteful are when it either takes over the whole narrative or it feels like the author is trying to stealth some BS ideas in on you through the story. Both show a basic lack of respect.

    That’s generally the key to me, I guess. It’s possible to present an idea I disagree with in a positive light as long as it isn’t also presented as perfect. If all possible objections are handwaived or it’s given a very niche situation to work in while being presented as a much broader solution, then it’s time to find other entertainment. The same is true if the story should otherwise be completely unrelated to this crap but the author(s) keep throwing in zingers. The ableism you mentioned might be like that or it might just be to showcase what an asshole that person was. Is the show doing character building or just insulting you if you don’t agree with what you see on-screen?

  2. says

    It does all seem to be in service of character building, including the racism. The show is built around the conflict between two men who were once bully and bullied, and whose conflict was resolved with the bullied one winning a karate championship vs. the bully in high school. Both of those characters are racist in different ways, which is treated as character building in the two scenes it’s shown.

    But particularly with the former bully, it’s the kind of racism that fueled trump’s win among middle-of-the-road white shitheads. Presented as if it’s a mild character flaw, but IRL really nasty shit. So treated lightly like this? Normalization. On the flip, they probably won’t come back to it much and I’ve forgiven – if not forgotten – similar sins in other TV shows, when the rest of the show had something strong to offer. I’m not sure what I’m ultimately going to get out of this one.

    For an example of what looks promising, there’s a minor character named Aisha who is a fat girl. Ultimately she joins the naughty dojo to learn how to kick ass. Her grievances are very realistic, it’d be fun to see her beat some ass. Plus I’ve always thought some fat girls have a good body shape for karate and think it would be cool to see that idea vindicated, if in a fictional scenario.

    Like, watching Jim Kelly do Kenpo Karate in Enter the Dragon, it feels like the form involves breaking rhythms and forcing oneself through an opponent’s space, and I think a fat girl with long limbs and weight to put behind moves could do that real well. The idea TV shows wanna tell me – that a 100 pound lady could one-hit KO a big guy out because she knows kung fu – is foolish and insulting to big ladies. Yes, a tiny lady could beat a big man in a fight, but it wouldn’t look like that. She’d have to fight more dirty, use combos ‘n’ shit. A fat girl could send a big guy flying or lay him out.

    I’d like to see it, might get to at least a little in this show. Then again, maybe they spend so little time with the character it isn’t worth watching the whole series. Decisions, decisions.

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