Netflix’ Home Game–Bizarreness Worth Traveling To Your Couch For

A few years back, Dhani Jones, a former NFL linebacker, had a show on Travel Channel called Dhani Tackles The Globe. Dhani was charismatic and athletic, but the draw to the show was getting to see sports from other countries: rugby, muay thai. dragon boat racing, etc.

Netflix’ Home Game is a documentary series that has a similar draw, without the central host. What it does do is crank up the peculiar nature of what international sports can be, compared to what we think of here in the States. Home Game is an eight-episode series, with each 30-minute installment looking at a sport, and usually a grand finale event within that sport. Several of the shows highlighted sports and traditions that have existed hundreds of years.

It opens in Italy, with a violent game that is a cross between MMA and rugby. It was enough my wife, an athletic trainer, had not interest in sitting and watching with me. Then to Scotland for the only one I might ever try–the Highland Games, where strong men toss heavy things. The most visually appealing episode, and also maybe the most potential for death is in the Philippines, where they follow competitive depth divers: seeing how far they can go underwater on their own breath.

There are also episodes on roller derby (the only episode set in the US), pro wrestling mixed with voodoo, an Asian polo-type game that uses a dead goat as a ball, drag racing with water buffalo (which is just majestic to watch, shut up, I have my spirit animal), and finishes with a more straight-forward sport, wrestling, with a social advancement twist.

Fitness goals.
Mark Strong

Narrated by Mark Strong, Merlin in Kingsman, the show does a decent job of introducing a new central character or two each episode, without much depth in the short lengths of the episode; but the draw is the different-ness of the sports. And that is enough to work for me in a world where I’m not going to watch a local game every night. It scratches the itch just fine. For me, it was a perfect show while sitting and eating breakfast or lunch. Much of it is subtitled, so having it on while doing something else won’t really work.

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