A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that We Are the Champions is a 6-part series that features obscure competitions and people at their pinnacle. These passions may seem silly (chasing cheese down a hill, eating hot chilis, yo-yo-ing) but the participants' dedication can get dangerous (e.g., one winning cheese-chaser broke her collarbone and returns for more; chili-eaters talk about the pain involved and routinely puke). Competitors sometimes swear ("f--k," "s--t"). For parents concerned about social media, YouTube fame is discussed in some of the segments.
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What's the story?
Part documentary, part sports show, part reality TV, and part comedy, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS is a hybrid that spotlights niche competitions -- cheese rolling, chili eating, fantasy hair styling, yo-yo-ing, dog dancing, and frog jumping. The comedy comes courtesy of narration from Rainn Wilson (who also executive produced) that slyly combines the "everything is on the line" commentary of pro sports and the Olympics with lighthearted, sarcastic humor and impressive cinematography and editing.
Is it any good?
Viewers bored by sports might give this series a pass based merely on the title, but they'd be missing a quirky, smart, funny, exciting show that celebrates finding your passion, no matter how niche. The six-episode series We Are the Champions does kick off with the most demanding physical competition, wherein participants in a small English village chase a wheel of cheese down an extremely steep hill. This is seriously visceral stuff -- bones are broken, people are hospitalized, and the winners are town legends -- but it also weaves the community together in a way that an annual parade wouldn't. Another episode focuses on a chili-eating contest hosted by the Guinness record-winning inventor of the world's hottest chili pepper. Kids thrall to YouTube chili pepper challenges, for better or worse, and here both that bravado and that barf is on display. Once we dig into the participants stories, though, we learn the role that these extremes play: one Australian competitor, Brianna, is transgender, and describes how "discrimination and hate gets pushed into eating the chilis." After she leaves the competition she says, "The acceptance and support from these people has been absolutely inspiring." Bella, another competitor, reveals that many who take to competitive chili eating are in recovery from substance abuse, and says that the hobby teaches that "there are no limits to what a person can do."
Executive producer Wilson's sometimes wry, sometimes reverent narration and the excellent cinematography make the series feel more like Wes Anderson mini-movies than the short segments on the local news where they'd usually appear. The producers and directors cast the show well, focusing on the characters who both win and have fascinating backstories. At the end of each episode, after we've learned the significance these unusual pursuits have for the participants, they pose for portraits as Wilson waxes philosophical. In the chili episode, for example: "The Buddhists say that to live is to suffer. And to thrive is to find meaning in that suffering...when we emerge, we are lighter, we are stronger, we are wiser. And we are forever the champions." Yes, it can feel a little heavy-handed but after spending 30 minutes getting to know the competitors, you'll allow them a victory lap.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why some types of competition/sports get more media coverage than others. How does that affect their popularity or importance?
How does the narration in We Are the Champions change how you see the competitions and competitors?
How do some of the competitors mentor others who could be their competition? Why is it important to have role models?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love competitions
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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