Striking at Perspective: a Cobra Kai Series Review

Image from IMDB.

Things are not always what they seem at first.

-Daniel Larusso

The Karate Kid was a favorite 1984 movie about a scrawny underdog winning a karate tournament and getting the girl. Several sequels and remakes followed (the one starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan was the best).

My teenagers are enjoying this series even though they don’t remember the original film.

Characters

Boys seeking father figures and male role models are a big part of the story. Image by imdb.

YouTubeTV continued the storyline with the much older rivals, now fathers, Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka fill their roles as if they’ve been living in Karate Kid land the whole time. The writing and acting are top-notch, with other actors making surprise appearances.

This time the underdogs are Johnny Lawrence and his unpopular student Miguel Diaz, convincingly played by Xolo Maridueña. Larusso is the antagonist who can’t let the past go, allowing it to color every interaction with Lawrence.

Theme

The main characters are most comfortable seeing each other as the enemy. Image by imdb.

The plot revolves around ego and perspective. Some might see the show as glorifying toxic masculinity because of the frustrating lack of communication and impulsive behavior, but that view misses the point. Women sometimes talk and act without thinking too.

Both main characters are good, flawed men.

The real issue is that understanding and communication are impossible when people refuse to listen or treat each other with respect. Larusso and Lawrence don’t know each other’s perspective, so they hate each other based on what they think they know. This hostility causes conflicts between their students and children who love and respect them.

Why watch

Because Daniel and Johnny are both right and wrong. In a way, they are proxies for society’s greater divisiveness.

Our social and political problems are the result of a lack of communication and perspective. We cannot come to an understanding without being willing to listen and acknowledging there are good, reasonable people on both sides.

What are our prejudices (the political not racial ones) doing to our children?

Larusso and Lawrence letting their egos get in the way of common sense. Image by imdb.

The conflicts of adults become the conflicts of our kids.

Themes

  • Bullying
  • Parenting
  • Second chances
  • Friendship
  • Boys seeking father figures
  • Male role models
  • Kids adopting their parents’ prejudices

Takeaway

The next time you are tempted to make a snap judgement about someone (maybe a friend or family member) based on their political party or say something uncharitable about someone having a really bad day, pause and give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you don’t know the entire story. Maybe you don’t know the real story.

Your Take

Have you ever been surprised when you heard another side of a story?


Featured image from imdb.

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