Are you looking for your next awesomely binge-worthy TV show? Do you love complex characters who walk the line between right and wrong? Cobra Kai is the show for you. When I first watched this show it was not by choice. Whenever it popped up, I would skip past it thinking it did not sound very interesting. But then one of my family members put it on and I immediately got sucked into the world of complex characters. This series, first released in 2018, is based on the famous blockbuster The Karate Kid, which came out in 1989. It follows the life of, not the previous hero, Daniel LaRusso, but instead the life of Johnny Law, LaRusso’s childhood nemesis. A burnout now living in the poorer part of town, Johnny is a drunk who spends the weekends beating up teenagers who piss him off. After a few run-ins between Johnny and Daniel, old rivalries are renewed, and old hatred grows stronger. In my opinion, this show lives up to its 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
This TV show presents viewers with a variety of options for whom to root. Johnny Law is our main character, yet he was the bully in The Karate Kid, so do we want to root for him? You kind of want to because you feel bad for him. You begin to see things from his perspective. From Johnny Law’s point of view Daniel LaRusso is the bully, so now do we still want to root for Daniel? Both characters will do things that make the viewers’ hearts soar, and things that will make the viewers cringe with third-party shame. It is a wonderful ride of just wishing the characters could get along, but also enjoying the tense action that results from their dysfunctional lives.
This story shows the importance of perspective and the necessity of communication. Where Johnny Law thinks he is being the hero, Daniel LaRusso thinks Johnny is being the bully and vice versa. It is all a matter of perception. It makes the viewers want the two to communicate, however they both struggle with this, and their inability to communicate results in some harrowing misguided actions and beliefs. Their actions are human. They wish they got along, but also to get revenge and justice. They struggle with jealousy and betrayal, but also show amazing amounts of compassion and kindness. Johnny and Daniel’s rivalry does not just affect them; in a very important realization, it affects their families, jobs, and most importantly their mentees, students at the local high school, invoking violent actions. The writers, directors, and actors do an excellent job of creating morally grey characters. This is something viewers might unknowingly long for. Perhaps because people in real life are complex. They are not always good, not always perfect, they make good decisions and bad decisions, and they struggle with communication. They desire to do the right thing but struggle to carry it out. They are hurt by each other, and they seek revenge.
The tv show is offered on popular sites such as Netflix (with a subscription), and for purchase by episode or series on Amazon Prime Video. It can also be found on YouTube, (link below). Season 4 is estimated to come out sometime late 2021. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6rfwQ0Rpwg