Cobra Kai from the perspective of someone who’s never seen The Karate Kid

I’m sorry! I really have never seen The Karate Kid! I saw the 2010 remake (and liked it) but that’s about it. I was born too late into the 80s to actually be an 80s kid.

But Cobra Kai is a really good show!?

Looking at reviews of it I don’t think anyone expected it to be a serious exploration of how the effects of high school bullying can ripple down for generations, but that’s exactly what it is. The two main characters are both incredibly messed up and they’re passing all their worst qualities on to their children and students. Seeing it happen is like watching a car crash in slow motion, PLUS the teenagers in question have the more esoteric 21st century bullshit to deal with as well.

I’m up to just before the season finale of season one and I dislike almost all of the characters. Lawrence is a bigoted asshole with a chip on his shoulder and Larusso is a capitalist who screws over poor people just to get a shot at his high school rival. Apart from Lawrence’s son and Larusso’s daughter (who I’m guessing will shortly have a Romeo and Juliet thing going on) they’ve made everyone and everything around them worse.

I think this show was probably only greenlit on the basis of, hey, there’s a lot of nostalgia for the 80s around now, right? But Cobra Kai is the antithesis of that. The broke, bullied 80s movie hero always walked away triumphant and got his ticket to a better life, and yet turns out the world he lived in didn’t actually improve any. (An 80s movie villain is now literally the President of the United States, after all.) There’s always a cycle. If any of the characters in this show manage to actually break it that’ll be their real strength.

(Maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t an 80s kid.)