If you’re into OCR, or are thinking of getting into it, but want to be fully mortified for a whole hour, watch Weekend Warriors on catch-up.
Because from the starting seconds to its last, gasping breath, it was the most unrepresentative shit-show that the BBC could possibly have produced. What astonishes me is that a board of people ACTUALLY must have sat down and watched it, and then clapped each other on the back, said, “Yep, that’ll do”, and signed off on it.
I feel as though the people who made this programme need to give a personal apology to the men of OCR, who they have depicted as desperate, overly competitive, unfit, and not the caring, compassionate and interesting blokes that I knock about with on the weekends.
The sad thing is, that the message was there, just deeply coated in a thick layer of mud and bullshit – a lot of us found OCR after dark or trying times. Nobody in the community will deny this, because it is an overriding theme in many ‘how did you get into OCR?’ discussions.
The cast wasn’t a total let down though; I liked the builders, best mates Darren and Dave, bumbling around the course like it was pub crawl, taking each obstacle as it came. It was a stark contrast to competitive Sean, who was busy hyperventilating in the cage crawl despite his 2AM TRAINING MARATHONS, flanked by his overprotective mother in her car. This was about the only time a woman was on screen – to run her son’s baths, cook his meals, and generally be his all round superfan. I do think the saddest thing about Sean’s story is that he probably isn’t a super-twat, obsessed with beasting everyone else on the course – his biggest fault is that he was too open to suggestion when the producer probably frog marched him to the medal shop to pre-emptively buy himself a prize for a run that is widely publicised as being non-competitive. Thankfully, Sean did not “win” Tough Mudder, and graciously handed his hastily bought medal to the bewildered but gracious first placing male.
Next up on the hit parade was a father and son team who had a spectacular fall out some time ago, which resulted in them ‘never ever speaking again, for 2 years’. The fact that a sport can bring together two warring family members is something really special, but somehow the show managed to turn it into an absolute creep-fest, leaving us with little sympathy for the man who, when hugging his son after the run, proclaimed, ‘I didn’t think you could do it.’ That’s not the calibre of parenting I expect from an OCR family at all – every weekend I see gaggles of muddy kids mucking in with marshalling, handing out water, sweets and sideline encouragement to competitors. OCR families are supportive and largely enviable, and it would have been good to see that, rather than this stunted, broken relationship that didn’t really have much of a story arc.
Aside from a casually racist desperado, who I truly can’t be bothered to write about because his off-the-chart impropriety as regards his preferred choice of female partner, there was a lonely Geordie who seemed like a decent chap with a sadly underdeveloped story. Never fear though, the producers were on hand to launch a blonde gym-bunny at him at the end of the show, proving that a bit of crawling under cargo nets will offset any everyday social-awkwardness and bag you a bird.
So I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting the idea that I don’t feel particularly enamoured with the portrayal of OCR on Weekend Warriors. Some may say that the show was not designed with the intention of showcasing OCR, rather telling the story of some white, middle class men on their converging journeys towards self-healing.
There are two problems with this argument, however:
One: if you show any sort of activity, sport, country, place or brand in a show, you ARE representing it, and it WILL be judged on the merits of that representation. OCR will be judged by the calibre and attitudes of the participants shown on this programme, and people will make assumptions about the community off the back of it. That’s just how we work. As a result of the show, many of us will be continually countering statements made on the show and fighting off the stereotypes that were depicted on it. In that respect, the sport has been set back a little bit. An upshot is that many people have seen how straightforward it is to get into OCR, and Tough Mudder’s website ground to a halt as people enquired about signing up.
Two: If the show’s intention was to tell a story, it ought to have had a beginning, middle, end, and follow up for each character. What Weekend Warriors did was an example of very lazy journalism; take a slightly offbeat bloke, give a sad backstory, and launch them into an activity. And that was it. No explanation as to how getting into OCR altered their lifestyle, their outlook or their lot in life, just…dump some rats in a maze and leave it at that. We didn’t see how this sport shaped them in any way, because the show spent so long illustrating just what a bunch of loons these people were. This was unfair to the people on the show, unfair to the viewer and massively unfair to the OCR community, who again, just look like a bunch of depressed and overweight socially-stunted, unfulfilled blobs of flesh with a decent disposable income and a lot of time on their hands.
And don’t even get me started on the appallingly inappropriate, racist comments of the Tough Mudder MC, the abject lack of any diversity on the show AT ALL, and the frankly sad use of ‘sadness porn’ to fill an hour slot on a slow evening on BBC2.
BBC, you can do better, and frankly, so can we.
I guess I should probably stop ranting and raving over this now; my bath’s getting cold and my Mum’ll be furious.