It’s Good to Watch Celebrities Struggle
Shows like Welcome to Wrexham and Clarkson’s Farm are so popular because we can watch celebrities struggle in a relatable way.
Welcome to Wrexham and Clarkson’s Farm are two very popular streaming series that share one quality: they’re about an investment. Both of these docuseries have found their way to astounding popularity since their creation, and it’s not surprising. Backed by the star power of Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney, and Jeremy Clarkson, the shows took off when they put some of our favorite celebrities in down-to-earth situations that we wouldn’t normally see them in. It’s nice to watch big-time stars, and fairly wealthy ones at that, struggle for their pay instead of watching movie magic turn their lives into pageants of instant success.
Though the celebrities might be far from the common tax bracket, Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney, and Jeremy Clarkson are all working hard to turn lead into gold. Reynolds and McElhenney had a mountain to climb when they bought their low-ranking Welsh football team. And Clarkson had a lot of work to do when he suddenly decided to cultivate a patch of land that had been neglected for some time. But Welcome to Wrexham and Clarkson’s Farm are undertakings far out of the normal scope of these celebrities’ lives, so they all decided to bring what they know to the job: Hollywood. Both endeavors represent a pivot in the actors’ careers, and their work seems to be paying off, slightly.
Clarkson’s Farm is the Opposite of his Old Life
All of these celebrities are independently wealthy thanks to their acting careers. Typically, when an actor invests in a business or works outside of acting, it’s usually buying a winery or lending their face to a beauty company. Wineries come with little work outside of hiring people to maintain the land and letting the wine mature. And the fashion industry is similar to entertainment in that it comes with a lot of photo shoots and self-promotion. Clarkson’s Farm was a bit of an outlier because we saw an actor famous for driving cars and hosting Who Wants to be a Millionaire? enter one of the most blue-collar sectors of the economy.
Jeremy Clarkson is best known for his work on Top Gear and Grand Tour, where he spent many years driving million-dollar cars through exotic lands. Though he was often known as a difficult person to work with, his TV fan base remained loyal to him and followed him through the rough patches he had in his career. This practice seems to have continued now that the cars have vanished, and a small town in the Cotswolds region of Southern England has replaced the exotic lands. But when he started this new career, he may have purchased one thing to remind him of his old life, a massive Lamborghini tractor.
This dramatic change is part of why we love the show. Clarkson moved from living what we imagine being every car fanatic’s dream into a life meant to be slower and easier than whatever antics he put up with as a television star. But what we see instead is the celebrity nearly breaking his back to create a dream he’s passionate about. That hard work, and perhaps that passion, is something we can all relate to. For a long time, we watched this man live a dream any of us would be lucky to experience for a day, and now, after spending so much time in heaven, we see him pulled down to Earth to experience the challenges we face every day.
Welcome to Wrexham is About the Heart of Wrexham
Welcome to Wrexham has much the same narrative but with the added benefit of an underdog sports story. If there was ever a closer remake to The Mighty Ducks, we at MovieWeb haven’t seen it. Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney traveled from Hollywood to Wales in the United Kingdom to find a soccer team with a lot of spirit and a long way to go to get to the top. What they found was the Wrexham Football Club. A non-league team with poor equipment, Wrexham has made a name for itself within one year of Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s involvement.
Most of the time, when celebrities own sports teams, they’re big-league American teams associated with MLB, the NBA, or the NFL. However, Welcome to Wrexham has garnered so much popularity from seeing a small-time, unknown team move forward so fast. And although the stars have injected a lot of money into their venture, the audience gets their gratification by watching Reynolds and McElhenney become genuinely invested in not just the fate of their team but the welfare of the town of Wrexham as well. When the team wins, the town wins, and when the town wins, Reynolds and McElhenney win.
Of course, making a good docuseries about a losing soccer team would be tricky, so all of these factors are tied together. The work here is more emotional than physical, but the risk is still high. Watching these two big stars put so much energy into a group of people who have more in common with the audience than they themselves, gives viewers a sense of inclusion in the drama on screen. We want Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to win, so we can win.