Review: The Playbook – Season 1

Score: B-

Rated: TV-MA

"This is why coaches are crazy. They have to be."

In sports, everyone believes themselves to be an expert. Whether from the sidelines, the pull-out bleachers, or the comfort of your living room couch, every fan feels they could do the job better.

Amidst the slew of self-proclaimed know-it-alls is a small number of elite coaches who have a track record to back up the claim. They've grown to dominate their respective fields, breathing life into their teams as they rise above the challenge and prove that nothing beats hard work and determination.

The Playbook offers five successful coaches, from different walks of life, the opportunity to open up about their philosophies, both on and off the court/field. The first season, which consists of five episodes, allows each coach a platform to revisit the decisions that helped shape their career and the journey that transformed them into one of today's industry leaders.

In traditional fashion, each segment focuses on a single coach, allowing their story to take center stage as they lay out their rules for life. Interestingly, each episode features a single interview, that of its main subject. The entire series concentrates on our leaders, and it never interrupts their retelling, only occasionally interjecting game and news clips to further the larger narrative.

Though an unusual approach, the style works, permitting the series to remain laser-focused. We learn core fundamentals from each coach as they recount their upbringing, history, and ultimate rise within their chosen field. Here they are permitted to speak openly as they tell their story in their own words.

This season's subjects include LA Clippers' Doc Rivers, South Caroline's Dawn Staley, two-time FIFA World Cup-winning Jill Ellis, Premiere League's José Mourinho, and Serena Williams' famed instructor Patrick Mouratoglou. Together, they offer various perspectives, each giving us different (though undoubtfully relatable) take on what is required to be a champion. Ultimately everyone carries the same mindset; it's the follow-through that is personalized.

For sports fans, The Playbook is an exciting look into the minds of some of today's most prominent leaders. Their fight and determination are on full display, even if each moment doesn't get the time to mature and fully develop. Listening to coaches discuss their lives, showcasing more of their personalities as they attempt to connect and inspire their fans, is an absolute treat. To this, the series succeeds.

But within the sports realm, there lies a plethora of qualified leaders, and this season doesn't diversify itself enough. Two basketball and soccer coaches are featured, yet none from baseball, softball, football, or hockey. It's hard to get a fully encompassing viewpoint when some of the most respected professionals find themselves on the sideline, a fact that would cause any coach to cry foul.

*This series is streaming globally on Netflix. All six episodes were reviewed.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.