Documentary

Review: Losers

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In the eight episodes of the Netflix docu-series Losers, elite athletes get knocked out, trounced, screwed over, bitten, and booed. With different creative choices, the whole thing could have been a syrupy stew of inspirational insipidness, in which all of the losers turn out to be winners after all.

Instead, there's not a lot of smiling—but there are also very few tears. The series is shot with a pleasingly uniform aesthetic and an eclectic mix of still-trim former athletes in nice sweaters reflecting on their losses. The mix of stories is varied and somewhat unexpected: I had clear memories of the near-misses of the backflipping French figure skater Surya Bonaly, for instance, but knew nothing about the cutthroat world of 1980s Canadian curling or desert long-distance running.

If there's a takeaway, it's an echo of Schumpeter's observation about the marketplace's gale of creative destruction, in which economic structures are constantly destroying themselves and being created anew. Or Bradley Cooper crooning in A Star Is Born that "maybe it's time to let the old ways die." Sometimes you lose because the game is rigged or because someone else is better than you. Other times you lose because the game you're playing is being constantly reinvented around you. That can be good or bad, but it's always interesting.

NEXT: Review: Aladdin

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  1. “Sometimes you lose because the game is rigged”

    That’s exactly what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Between Russian hacking, the Comey letter, and blatant pro-Drumpf media bias, it wasn’t even close to a fair contest. And she still won by 3 million votes — only to get cheated by the Electoral College!

    #StillWithHer

    1. Yes, she’s not only a loser, but a sore whiny loser.

    2. I can’t believe you have the energy to roleplay this character day after day.

      1. If there were a webby award for sustained performance of an internet troll, OBL would be a token nomination, to be sure.

    3. You mean Bernie lost because Hillary rigged the primary, right?

    4. I know what you mean, OBL. She spent all that money on college and came out with nothing.

  2. A three paragraph review? I think the Reason staff has realized that no one is here for the articles anymore.

    I liked Losers, btw, I recommend giving it a watch. The one about sled racing in Alaska is particularly interesting.

    I did find it amusing that these people are only “losers” in the sense that they came in 2nd or 3rd place at the highest level in their sport – they’re all enormous winners just to get to that level at all.

    1. …no one is here for the articles anymore.

      Articles? What articles?

    2. I’m here for the comment section. Can we get an upvote system please?

  3. “still-trim former athletes in nice sweaters”

    Always liked trim in sweaters. Did they feature Anna Kournikova?

  4. Again, KMW, the proper way to spell ‘loser’ on the internet is ‘looser’.

    1. That’s a hugh mistake on her part.

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