• James Hewlett

Cobra Kai Never Dies

Almost a couple of years ago I binged through the entire first season of the YouTube original show Cobra Kai in the space of a weekend. There was something infectiously charming about it and I couldn’t stop watching.

I knew about the second season when it originally aired but for whatever reason it didn’t pop on my radar enough for me to actually go and watch it.

Then recently the show was picked up by Netflix and they announced they would be continuing it as well as making the first two seasons available on their platform.

As it is so much easier to watch things there I found myself more interested to go back to Reseda California and check back in with the world of The Karate Kid.

A lot of what I’ll say is probably echoing my thoughts of the first season but that was a while ago now and even I can’t remember exactly what I wrote.

I was never the biggest Karate Kid fan, sure I saw at least the first two movies a couple of times as a kid but they never grabbed me hard like they did with many. It was such a cultural landmark though that it’s hard to not know all the references as they’ve permeated into everything since 1985.

I think that’s why my enjoyment of Cobra Kai is still so surprising to me and a testament to the show.

It works on a few levels and seems to balance them as well as Daniel-san on the break post at the beach. On the one hand it is a sequel story to the original series of movies, following Daniel Laruso and Johnny Lawrence as middle aged men still struggling to work everything out and still rivals after three decades. I say series there too because while the first season seemed focused primarily on following up on the original movie this season is definitely more referential to the subsequent films in the series despite their diminishing quality.

The other aspect of the show is the new generation of karate students learning at both Johnny’s Cobra Kai and Daniel’s Myagi-Do dojo’s. We have a flip of circumstances that place these younger characters in familiar but reversed roles than the original movie and as we’ve moved on with the series we are also getting new students who fill similar roles to other characters in the movies without ever being carbon copies.

I think the reason the show is so enjoyable to me is because you can feel how much the writers, creators and cast, especially all the legacy cast who come back, are enjoying making it. They’re never poking fun at themselves but they also are fully aware of the innate silliness of the situations they’re written into.

Cobra Kai is a show that should not work but for me at least really does. I hope that either filming is complete or production is able to begin again in the not too distant future for the third season and that the Netflix acquisition doesn’t change the direction it is going in.


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