The best TV series aren’t necessarily what everyone is talking about. The proof is provided once again by Winning Time, subtitled The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, available in France on Prime Video with a Warner Pass subscription.
This biographical series is adapted from the work Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty by Jeff Perlman chronicles the NBA epic of the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 1980s.
Indirectly, the program paints a realistic portrait of America and criticizes racial inequality in a society that favors individual success over the collective. The series also chronicles the transformation of NBA players from mere athletes to media superstars.
All star cast
Backed by a top-notch cast, Winning Time stars John S. Reilly as Jerry Buss, a real estate mogul who decides to buy the Lakers team at a high price. He does not hesitate to invest all his wealth in the sports success of his team, the latter also intends to transform basketball into a real popular entertainment.
To realize his ambitions, Jerry Bass decides to bet on a young talent, Earvin Johnson Jr., better known by the nickname Magic Johnson. The latter, played by Quincy Isaiah, is a basketball prodigy but also a young man intent on taking advantage of every aspect of the good life available to him.
His outgoing personality is the complete opposite of the team’s other star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes). This veteran player, the NBA’s leading scorer (a record he will hold until February 2023 when he is dethroned by LeBron James) is a quiet force in his own right, reading in his spare time, in between practicing Islam. and his passion for jazz.
To get the best out of Magic Johnson, it was necessary to have an opponent stand out against him, and what better opponent for a player of his talent than Larry Bird. This winger from deep in America wears the colors of the Boston Celtics, a team supported mostly by the working class. And so it completely contradicts the Lakers and their elite image of the Hollywood team.
In addition to the Lakers’ on-court performances, the series also features iconic Lakers leaders. Thus, Adrien Brody lends his qualities to Pat Riley, a former player who flirts with alcoholism, who is inevitably offered the opportunity to become an assistant coach to Paul Westhead (Jason Segel), and then the team’s head coach.
On a larger scale, Jason Clarke plays Jerry West, an NBA icon (whose silhouette also features in the logo) but also a flamboyant loser, as he has just one win out of nine Finals appearances as a player. with the Lakers.
As such, he harbors an unbridled hatred for the Celtics and their no less iconic president, Red Auerbach (Michael Chiklis).
Several female characters are also of great importance. Starting with Claire Rothman (Gabby Hoffman), a woman in the shadows but still indispensable to the Lakers, she was sadly removed in the second season. Or even Ginny Bass (Hadley Robinson), Jerry’s daughter and current team president.
A disturbing policy change
Winning Time breaks the traditional codes of biography thanks to the aesthetic alternation of fictional scenes and reconstructions in the form of mockumentary films. Many times, the characters break the fourth wall by addressing the audience in front of the camera, and the cartoons give an ironic look to the plot of the series.
Apart from the feud between director Adam McKay and his beloved actor Will Ferrell, the series has also been at the center of several controversies. Many Lakers personalities have spoken out about the liberties taken by the streak with real facts, most notably Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, author of a killer article against the streak.
Unfortunately, the program will not be given the opportunity to complete its plot. This Sunday, September 17, the broadcast of the seventh episode of Winning Time season 2 marked the abrupt end of the series. To date, the episode is not available on Prime Video in France.
In a series of interviews given to our American colleagues, the creators of the series confirmed that the end of the series is not as expected. Indeed, the very first episode of the show opened with the revelation of Magic Johnson’s HIV status, suggesting that Winning Time would touch more directly on the latter’s later career.
Therefore, the series will remain unfinished, despite the epilogue clumsily added at the end of this last episode to wrap up the plot.
To continue exploring the many stories left unanswered, you’ll have to look back on the documentary series They Call Me Magic (AppleTV+) and Legacy – The True Story of the LA Lakers (Disney+).
Many fans expressed their displeasure after the sudden cancellation of Winning Time, although it was very popular with the community (4.1/5 on its AlloCiné profile). Some netizens also expressed fear that the decision reflects a change in HBO’s policy, which has always prioritized the quality of its programming over its audience…
Season two of Winning Time (not including its final episode) is now available on Prime Video with a Warner Pass subscription.
Discover the list of all series currently available on the platform!
Rose James is a Gossipify movie and series reviewer known for her in-depth analysis and unique perspective on the latest releases. With a background in film studies, she provides engaging and informative reviews, and keeps readers up to date with industry trends and emerging talents.