Okay, so I’m not proud of this, but here it is: my new obsession is American Ninja Warrior. Yes, it’s cheesy as heck. Yes, the title makes no sense. But there’s something exhilarating about it.
For the uninitiated, American Ninja Warrior is a television show in which super-fit people run through an obstacle course. I know, I know. I promise I don’t only watch it for the abs (although the abs are definitely a plus). But there’s something about the sheer physicality of the contestants that’s really fascinating. I work out because I don’t want to be a blob. People who work out because they actually like it are intriguing creatures to me.
The production values of the show are half the fun. It’s got an unapologetic, corny exuberance to it, like an early Reagan town hall, or maybe a late 1970s television show, an over-the-top American pageantry. It reminds me of my first bicycle, the American Bicentennial bike I learned to ride on when I was six years old. It had shiny red, white and blue streamers coming out of the handles and a Liberty Bell on the seat. If that bike could have turned into a television show, it would have turned into American Ninja Warrior. The commentators are playing to the lowest common denominator, the goal is pleasantly simple and the feel-good, apple-pie stories of the contestants make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Perhaps because all the agonizing national self-reflection of a presidential election year reveals the most ambiguous and unseemly side of America, it’s just nice to take a break and watch a bunch of red, white and blue flashing lights while a woman in a Wonder Woman-inspired costume pulls herself across a beam on the power of her well-developed upper body strength alone. It’s soothing, like for a moment it can all be uncomplicated, we’re strong, we work hard, and we get across on our impressive strength. So please don’t judge.
And if this all sounds good to you right about now, click here to check out listings in your area.