OK, let’s all acknowledge that American Ninja Warrior isn’t the kind of show I usually write about. Nope, most of the time, it’s high-concept shows with intricate plotting, complex characters and long, twisty arcs.
This is not that kind of show.
Well, it does have long, twisty arcs, but the contestants are supposed to slide across them on a bar. Or cling to them upside down with their fingertips. Or hurl themselves toward them with a trampoline.
You know. The normal day-to-day.
I’d never actually watched American Ninja Warrior (it really needs a catchy acronym, but ANW sounds like a window-makers’ professional organization) until this week, when, setting my DVR, it appeared on my screen. I couldn’t look way.
Couldn’t. Look. Away.
For anyone who hasn’t seen this spectacle it’s a combination of parkour and your worst gym class nightmares, where contestants resembling Greek gods attempt to complete an obstacle course. Like most competition reality shows, there are the heartwarming profiles to get you rooting for them, often right before they go splat into the pool. Or splat into the padding.
There are many splats.
Most of the time, they pop up smiling, which is reassuring. Meanwhile, the announcers narrate in the background, lending the feel of a sporting event.
And, of course, despite having never successfully completing a pull-up in my entire life, I am absolutely convinced that I, too, could climb up a beam and down again by hanging on to a hoop I use to “hop” over pegs, using only my upper body.
I mean there has to be a workout video for that, right?
Maybe it’s just human nature to be fascinated by the physical feats of our fellow humans. Maybe it’s reveling in the fantasy, if only for the 2-3 minutes it takes the finishers to run the course, that we, too, could glide over a collection of rotating poles as gracefully as skipping on the beach.
Assuming we could skip gracefully on the beach.
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