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
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
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.