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It’s easy to say that the new Netflix series Losers focuses on failure. It’s right there in the title, it outright says that the subjects of the documentary series are, well, losers. They didn’t win.
Except, more often than not, they did, just not always in the way you expect.
The series is focused on a variety of sports stories from all sorts of sports, from all around the world - whether you’re looking at curling or Canada or figure skating in France. And at the end of an episode, it’s hard to think that any of the documentary’s subjects actually failed. Even if their success isn’t perhaps traditional, or they lost a key match, they still wound up succeeding in some way.
It’s also a series that works even if you’re not that into the sports in question. It’s good at explaining the relevant details of whatever game they’re talking about - my fiance, being American, didn’t know how curling worked until the documentary explained it. More importantly than that, by focusing squarely on the athletes it keeps it interesting. They’re great personalities, and as a viewer you get invested in what they’re doing and the choices they’re making.
It’s strange to think of a sports series which implies that the medals and championships that athletes strive for are not actually that important, but it’s an interesting message to deliver. Surya Bonaly may not have an Olympic medal, but in performing an illegal move at her last Olympics - a backflip, because injuries meant she couldn’t do a routine the judges would like anyway - she made a statement and went out on her own terms.
It’s a show that’s all about how people react to failure. Sometimes they get more determined, set on proving a point and coming back from it. Sometimes they take another approach, and redefine success for themselves.
And sometimes, in a sillier episode, it’s just a story about a bad soccer team barely making it into the next season because a player got bit by a dog.
Still, there’s a whole lot of work that goes into losing, and sometimes that loss is a lot more interesting than actually winning.