There is a perfectly good explanation why season four of “Cobra Kai” is currently the number one show on Netflix right now. In just its second week since its release, the show that sequels the classic film “The Karate Kid” had already received more than 107 million hours of views.
In contrast to much of the unwatchable content Hollywood produces these days, “Cobra Kai” creators Jon Hurwitz, Josh Heald, and Hayden Schlossberg do not seem to mind if anyone is offended by their work. Instead of using sanctimonious leftist virtue signaling to make a point or having characters preen about their woke moral superiority, the show cleverly and hilariously mocks the cancer that is “politically correct” culture, while promoting personal responsibility and accountability for the decisions we make. (Spoilers below.)
In the latest season, when the All Valley Karate Tournament committee wisely decides that biological boys should not be competing against biological girls (something that collegiate athletic committees still don’t seem to agree with), Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) realizes he will have to recruit more girls if he wants his dojo to compete in the tournament. But in order to do so, Johnny’s top student, Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) reminds his sensei that when he tries to make his sales pitch, he has to be “woke,” not “awake.”
“We teach anyone who identifies as female to embrace their queenly strength and tear down the neo-masculine hierarchy to confront internalized sexism,” Johnny says, clearly mocking the fact that many in Gen Z are unlikely to be persuaded to participate in a sport or activity if it does not meet their preferred standards of social justice activism.
Unlike the Black Lives Matter movement, which has stated it wants to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” “Cobra Kai” embraces the importance of having a cohesive family unit that includes strong fathers and caring mothers. It also shows us what happens when parents abrogate their most basic responsibilities and neglect their children. The outcome is often tragic and predictable.
Look no further than Johnny’s estranged son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), who has had to fend for himself for most of his life. As a result, he is combative, resentful, and doesn’t trust anyone, including those who want to help him. Although “Cobra Kai” certainly does not advocate for deadbeat parenting, it does underscore what can happen when helicopter parents become too overbearing and refuse to allow their children to make any decisions for themselves.
Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who was raised by a single mother and never went to college but managed to learn a trade and open a successful car dealership, strives to make sure that his children are afforded every opportunity he never had. But he eventually realizes that by trying to make every decision for his children, while lavishing them with expensive cars and fancy electronics, he probably weakened them.
This is particularly true of his son Anthony LaRusso (Griffin Santopietro), who is lazy, spends far too much time on a screen, and seems to have no goals, other than hanging with the “cool kids” at school. And while Daniel’s daughter Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) does not lack motivation, Daniel eventually realizes that his overprotectiveness about whom she dates, where she should go to college, or what version of karate she practices will do her no good in the real world, especially when he’s not around to make decisions for her.
Perhaps the most important lesson from “Cobra Kai” (the show, not the dojo) is that there are no freebies in sports or in life, and positive outcomes are earned, not given. Losing with grace and dignity is better than cheating to win, but showing pride in your beliefs and willingness to defend yourself and your principles is permissible too.
And here’s one more lesson: “Cobra Kai” is not for the woke, which is why it’s winning.