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I go through periods during this pandemic when I can’t watch anything dark or serious, but I want to connect with the wider world. Happily, Netflix has two shows that meet this desire for distraction, learning, and connection: Home Game and We Are the Champions.

Home Game is an 8-episode docuseries about obscure sports around the world such as drag racing water buffalo in flooded rice fields in Bali, a combo of rugby and mixed martial arts in Florence, Italy, and roller derby in Austin, Texas. These competitions are intense, but they are beautifully shot and respectfully narrated. The competitors shine as they throw their bodies into their chosen sport.

We Are the Champions is a 6-episode series about people seeking to become champions of slightly odd competitions. It is narrated by Rainn Wilson, who is informative and funny without veering into mockery. In each episode, we learn about the competition, meet three competitors, hear from some stakeholders, follow the competitors as they prepare, watch the big show, and then enjoy a joyful montage of the winners, the losers, the judges, the audience, and people who are just getting into the activity. The competitors are serious about what they’re doing and prepare to win, whether that’s getting a frog to jump the farthest, chasing a wheel of cheese down a terrifyingly steep hill, or doing the most intricate dance steps with a dog. But there is always a good sense of fun and often camaraderie.

If you can handle something more intense, then choose Home Game. If you just want a feel-good show, then choose We Are the Champions. At a time when we can’t travel, these shows give us highly entertaining glimpses into other cultures and subcultures.(Netflix)

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