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Welcome to Wrexham

FX, August 24, 2022

Aug 24, 2022 Photography by Patrick McElhenney Web Exclusive
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When did Americans become obsessed with soccer, I mean, football? The obvious culprit here is the Apple TV+ breakout hit, the delightful and award-sweeping Ted Lasso. But Welcome to Wrexham a whole other animal.

First of all, it’s a docuseries, but looking at the promotional materials, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a half-hour comedy starring Hollywood marquee material, Ryan Reynolds, and Rob McElhenney, best known as the creator, actor, and star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Secondly, the unlikely story here is that Reynolds and McElhenney have purchased Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest football clubs in the world attached to the tiny town of Wrexham, located in the farthest reaches of Wales. Finally, it’s these two and their movie/TV star money who are going to be the saviors of this painfully low-ranking team, the Wrexham Red Dragons. The whole thing sounds entirely made-up, and at cursory glance, like it’s taking more than a few of its cues from Ted Lasso.

The intention here is to show a real-life example of the underdog lifting itself out of its pitiful situation through sheer determination and dedication. The series makes a point of over-illustrating that these are not big-salaried footballers. These are working athletes being paid, at best, middle-class wages. Anything the Red Dragons accomplish is in no small part with the support of a city that loves its team. And let’s not forget two remote rich and famous people who seemed to have only learned the rules of the sport minutes before they purchased the team.

Welcome to Wrexham is, in a word, boring. The documentary-capturing cameras have been on from before day one and they’re capturing the dullest footage there ever was. Cases in point, Reynolds and McElhenney have the most disposable conversations over video chat, constantly calling themselves “asshole(s),” and endless getting-to-know-you segments with the players, all of which need subtitles to get through, none of which have the magnetism required to attract viewers to watch you be yourself. What Welcome to Wrexham really needs is a more liberal hand with slicing out much of this lackluster content.

Contrary to what it may look like from the stands, there’s nothing glamorous about owning a sports team. It’s a money-sucking venture as Reynolds and McElhenney discover. But even their struggles with the costs of the Red Dragons and everything that goes with them, such as letting go of older players and attracting young talent aren’t enough to keep you entertained.

The only part of the series that is worth watching is the gorgeous scenery of and around the town of Wrexham. If Welcome to Wrexham accomplishes nothing else—and it is sure not to—perhaps it will boost the tourism of the town. (www.fxnetworks.com/shows/welcome-to-wrexham)

Author rating: 4/10

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