A lot of shows on the airwaves right now are driving a lot of traffic and attention, but perhaps one of the most vastly underrated programs available is on the Netflix streaming service. Last Chance U is a documentary that has the feeling of a hollywood movie about adversity and triumph.
Poverty, education, spirituality, racism, sporting culture are just a few prominent aspects of the show centred around East Mississippi Community College’s football program. The players and coaches are the central feature of the series, with the team being comprised of extraordinary potential NFL players who have ended up in Scooba Mississippi for a range of reasons.
Whether it be academic shortcomings, run ins with police, injury or drug testing failures, all the players featured on the show struggle with their own set of individual demons in the pursuit of their childhood dream.
Head Coach Buddy Stephens features prominently as a hard nosed task master whose demeanour and coaching style confronts any viewer. We also see the stresses that come along with the high, win at all costs expectations of the community and players in Coach Stephens, as well as a tenacious father figure persona.
The great power of the series is that the central feature of the show isn’t the actual football itself. It’s a very accessible series regardless of your knowledge of American Football or even sport in general.
Ultimately, Last Chance U is about the people on it and the journey of young men from mostly underprivileged backgrounds doing everything they can to become literally millionaires in the NFL. It is a mistake to discount this show simply as a sports show, much in the way it is unwise to do the same thing with a movie like ‘Hoop Dreams’.
In its second season, the show will make you want to Google the whereabouts of the characters in the show. The series makes you feel like you know the players intimately, with the camera crews documenting the events becoming almost confidants for the players throughout the season.
Academic advisor Brittany Wagner also functions as perhaps the most intriguing and important person in the series. Her intimate and difficult relationships with players disinterested in engaging their studies make any viewer appreciate her role in the community. Becoming the nagging mother of all these super athletes, Wagner goes through a rollercoaster of emotion through both seasons.
Last Chance U makes you care about people’s lives, dreams and fears. It makes you ponder why things are the way they are and make you question your own motivations.
And it demands your attention.