Insert Mr Miyagi’s theme music here.
I’ll try not to include spoilers but no promises. If you are planning to watch the show but haven’t gotten around to it, you might want to be safe and stop reading now.
You have been warned.
Jen and I had a discussion this morning about Cobra Kai the TV series. Specifically, why is it good? When the show was first announced I, like many people, assumed it was going to be a spoof based on some jokes in the show How I Met Your Mother (one of the characters insisted that The Karate Kid was a story of a wholesome rich kid who got screwed out of his karate title and his girlfriend by the new bully in town). It’s not though. It’s just a continuation of the Karate Kid story (not you, Next Karate Kid). Johnny has grown up to be a loser. Daniel has grown up to be successful with a happy family. Johnny meets a nerd and decides to teach him karate and three seasons worth of bloody hijinks ensues.
If you look at it objectively and break it down into its core pieces, is it good? The acting isn’t terrible. Some of the kids are hard to watch but for the most part it’s okay. No one in The Karate Kid was getting a best actor award, and we’re pretty much on par with that today. The writing is pretty suspect. The boss fights in the season two and three finales were gratuitous to say the least (especially season two) and could have made the same points with 75% less violence. Granted, gratuitous does not necessarily mean bad. The dialog is often funny, but the overall story is completely telegraphed. You can literally see what’s coming multiple episodes ahead. I know surprise twists aren’t really the point here, but still… You could see the dramatic ending of season three happening during season one. It’s that predictable. Of course, that didn’t mean there wasn’t literal cheering in our living room when then dramatic ending to season three happened.
The show is 100% nostalgia and fan service. Seriously, there is nothing else here. Even that is hard to understand though. I saw the Karate Kid in the theater in 1984. I was 13. It never ranked as a favorite for me, not even close, but I liked it. It was fun. When the sequel came out I saw that in the theater too. Not so much for part three. I still don’t think I’ve seen that at all. That could explain why I like the show. It’s bringing me back to a simpler, more innocent time yadda yadda yadda. I can get behind that, but how does that explain my 18 year old step son? He loves it! He sat there cheering along with the rest of us. It’s not nostalgic for him, so where is his pre-existing emotional connection?
So the question remains? Why is Cobra Kai so good? Why have we hung on every shot for three seasons? Why are we all bummed out that we have to wait until next January for season four? How did they do this to us? They pulled a fast one on us and I want to know what happened. Was it hypnotism? Was it brain washing?
Why is Cobra Kai so damned good?