Producing For an International Audience

Tyler Keating - Producing for an international audience
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 5 months ago
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No one would ever expect someone like me to enjoy a show called "Ultimate

Beastmaster". Believe me, neither would I. But after last night's binge-watch, I'm

excited for what's to come of this new Netflix reality competition. The premise is

simple: In each episode, 12 contestants from 6 different countries (U.S., Brazil, South

Korea, Mexico, Germany, and Japan) verse off as they try to conquer a 600 ft long

obstacle course called "The Beast". The show is very much like ABC's Wipeout or

NBC's American Ninja Warrior if that show wasn't so obviously American.

Beastmaster is the first show of its kind developed intentionally for a global

audience. Netflix created six different versions of the show and the one you get to

watch all depends on where you live. Here in North America, the show highlights

American contestants and commentary from American hosts. Meanwhile, audiences in

Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Germany and Japan will find versions of the show that

highlight contestants and hosts from their respective countries. This all sounds really

cool on paper but does that excitement translate on-screen?

I'd say so. From the moment the show began, I felt as if I was watching the

Olympics. Seeing an incredibly diverse group of people from around the world come

together because of their shared passion for athleticism is exactly the type of television

that is necessary in the world today. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of all races,

ages, and genders. Unlike most major sports, the show allows women to compete

against men as equals. Not only do these women play, they play to win.

Casting all countries aside, the show is American at its core. Sylvester Stallone

serves as the Executive Producer with Terry Crews and Charissa Thompson offering

their star power as the American hosts. Although they were often the primary focus in

the version I saw, we catch certain glimpses of their international counterparts

throughout the show and the inclusion of subtitles allows us to understand their

commentary. At times, I found the subtitles was so unnecessary because of how

animated and expressive the hosts were of their emotions. They were all quirky and

comedic characters that cheered proudly for their countries which added an interesting

dynamic to the show.

As Canadians, we are constantly bombarded by American media so this show is

just another drop in the bucket. It would be incredible had there been Canadian hosts

and contestants; however, their absence did not ruin my experience. I was far less

concerned about the nationality of each contestant in comparison to their personal

stories of hardship and triumph. Some have suffered deliberating accidents, others

hope to make their families' proud. These are inspiring stories everyone can empathize

and relate to. They translate beyond borders. It's what gives this show it's global

appeal.

These personal stories also give viewers an opportunity to learn about cultures

and places from around the world. During the first episode, we see b-roll footage of

German competitors exploring parts of the Bavarian Alps. Later, we learn about a

world class ice climber from Japan. This type of global perspective is unfounded in

another other show on television today. If these stories aren't enough to peak your

interest then perhaps the show's incredibly high production value might do the trick.

The 600 ft long obstacle course is reminiscent of something you'd find in a

Transformers movie. The inclusion of beautiful infographics and diagrams throughout

the program allow viewers to easily understand the rules and gameplay; a major draw

against sporting programs which often require prior knowledge to enjoy the

experience.

As I said already, I'm very excited for what's to come of Ultimate Beastmaster. I

applaud Netflix for taking advantage of its global power to innovate and try new things.

I can only hope they continue to do so. The format is flexible and there's no reason to

believe that the list of participating countries won't change in future seasons. The

second season is already in post-production and Netflix is keeping hush-hush about

which countries have been removed or added to the mix. Will Canada make an

appearance? Only time will tell.