When I was in junior high school, girls were either Ralph Macchio fans or Michael J. Fox fans.
Sure, we had other options…
Tom Cruise. (Regrets, anyone?) Rob Lowe. (He aged well thanks to a low-carb diet!) Patrick Swayze…. The list goes on with the Brat Pack members, anyone who ever starred in a John Hughes movie, and our beloved soap opera stars.
But amongst my friends, the question was always, “Who do you like better? Michael J. Fox or Ralph Macchio.”
Back to the Future, in my opinion, is in the top 5… no, 3… Ok. It IS, in my opinion, the greatest movie ever made. The sequels weren’t bad either.
And I was always in front of the TV on Thursday nights for Family Ties.
But I was still a Ralph Macchio fan.
Because I haven’t watched television in years until recently, I missed his recent performances on Dancing with the Stars and whatever else he’s been in since the Karate Kid days.
But when my husband suggested I watch Cobra Kai and I caught a bit of the back story, I had to tune in.
With season 3 coming out in January, I thought it appropriate to share three reasons I love Cobra Kai.
Classic Hero Story Turned on Its Head
It’s pretty clear that William Zabka’s Johnny was the bully in the original Karate Kid film from 1984. I mean, there’s the scene on the beach with Daniel in the sand. The way Johnny’s friends went after Daniel in the parking lot during the dance. And, of course, Johnny was the entitled rich boy.
That right there is the clincher. Money = Bad. Poor, struggling kid from a broken home = Good.
Cobra Kai presents an interesting role reversal that continues to perpetuate these stereotypes.
Daniel is the wealthy auto dealership owner, while Johnny is the struggling, divorced, single alcoholic dad.
But in flashbacks to the original movie, you start to see another side of the story. Maybe Johnny wasn’t the villain all along.
Re-watch the original – or just view the flashbacks in season one. You may have some revelations. And depending on your age and how much of a role the original film played in your life back then – your mind may be blown!
Some of the Best Writing on TV – Ever
Throughout each episode, depending on the perspective and the plot points – the hero changes. The Cobra Kai writers have created some of the most multidimensional characters I’ve ever experienced in a drama-comedy series. (With Schitt’s Creek coming in a close second.)
Just when you start to sympathize with Johnny or Daniel, they do something so completely stupid or blatantly wrong that you want to cry – or smack them. Or both. Then they turn it around and do the right thing or show a softer side.
These are two guys struggling to get through life and make the best decisions for themselves and their family. But ego and pride, basically, middle-aged guys doing dumb things, get in the way.
Couple the complex characters with plot twists, tension, and multiple subplots focused on the show’s younger generation of karate students, and you have, simply, some of the best writing on TV. Possibly ever.
And can we talk about the Season 2 cliffhanger? No, we better not. I can’t even.
The ‘80s Nostalgia
From Johnny’s concert tees and his beloved Pontiac Firebird to the show’s soundtrack, the ‘80s nostalgia brings GenXers back to our big hair days.
The teen characters have their own subplot that often becomes the focal point, making this a show for families to enjoy together. But Cobra Kai was almost exclusively written for GenX, the forgotten generation.
Plus, let’s face it.
Those same girls who used to ponder, “Ralph Macchio or Michael J. Fox,” are sipping wine, surfing Netflix, and asking an equally crucial question: “Team Johnny” or “Team Daniel?”