Thursday, December 2, 2021

Apple TV Swagger Could Be The Next Friday Night Lights Show

The ambitious hoop phenomenon, Jace Carson, is already a hero in his hometown, and rumors of his great prowess on set are spreading. He already feels like getting into the NBA team is like his trademark dunk. He already imagines that he can afford not one, but three lavender Lexus for his mother.

However, he still has several years to wait before he can realize his dream: Jace is in eighth grade.

For legions of black youths his age, the seductive seduction of professional basketball offers not only a chance of success, but also a way out of financial hardship and an exit from a society that is underreported – and in some cases actively abused – by educators, healthcare professionals. , politicians and police. …

Jace’s journey is at the heart of the new Apple TV + drama “Swagger,” set in the fiercely competitive world of youth basketball. The 10-episode series, which premiered last month, has garnered positive reviews from critics and cultural commentators, including Blacklist founder Franklin Leonard. Some even compare it to “Friday Night Lights,” the famous NBC drama about the high school soccer team.

As with this beloved episode, which premiered in 2006 and spanned five seasons, Swagger’s agenda is much more than the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Broken black families, racism, sexual misconduct, the overwhelming influence of social media, and the lucrative invasion of youth athletics by large sporting goods companies are some of the topics explored.

It is also a story of redemption, as evidenced by the struggles of Isaac Kennedy Edwards, also known as “Icon,” a former championship player whose path to greatness has been thwarted. Barely keeping this together with a meager job and a small child on the way, Edwards seeks his own salvation while trying to steer his talented young players, Jace included, away from temptations that could lead them astray.

“This basketball show isn’t really about basketball,” said creator Reggie Rock Bytwood (Get on the Bus, Shots). “It’s about growing up in America.”

The show stars O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Icon, Isaiah Hill as Jace and Oscar-nominated Quenjane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) as Crystal, a young basketball star increasingly traumatized by what she deems inappropriate her achievements. trainer.

Isaiah Hill (left) and O’Shea Jackson Jr. in Swagger.


“Swagger” is inspired by the personal experiences of NBA star and executive producer Kevin Durant, who plays youth basketball.

“Sport is a reflection of life, and kids can learn a lot about teamwork and improve their craft from youth basketball.” Durant wrote an email to The Times. “At the same time, this is a business and there is a lot of pressure to compete. Obviously, there are many similarities between Jace’s story and mine, from leading his team to his relationship with his mom. But he and the other characters have their own true stories, and they go through what we’ve all been through in the last year, with the pandemic and more.

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In an interview with Zoom, Bywood – husband of Gina Prince-Bytwood, Love & Basketball writer / director and Swagger consultant producer – talked about his initial reluctance to get involved with the project, his dedication to authenticity, and what he hopes for viewers. get out of the series.

What brings you to Swagger?

KD and [executive producer] At a conference in Italy a few years ago, Brian Graser talked about hosting a show inspired by his youth basketball days. I was asked to meet with Kevin, who was still at Golden State at the time. I did not want. I had no intention of doing anything in the basketball arena – it’s kind of blasphemy in this house. [Laughs] But there are worse things in the world than meeting Kevin Durant, who is arguably the best player in the world. I flew to Auckland, to his home, and he was a modest, hospitable and generous person. We started talking about life, and I immediately understood him.

What impressed you?

I was amazed that at 13 or 14 years old he still needed to prove himself. He was not the phenomenon that everyone knew was going to be what he would eventually end up with. He was taller than the other children. He had a coach who taught him how to handle the ball, working on the elements of the game that helped him rise to where he is now. I thought it was a great launching pad for the series. I also wanted to bring elements of my own life as a parent of two kids who play sports and meet some great coaches. I have also seen coaches who know the sport but don’t know how to handle children. In this show, we see the pressure these young people are experiencing even before they even go to college or high school.

You’re also dealing with adult issues, especially Icon, which was a star before it all crashed and burned.

Some people are high school or college assassins. The icon was touted as the best high school player. But he succumbed to pressure and made some decisions that helped him fall out of favor. Emotionally, he was not the best version of himself. In fact, he needs Jace as much as Jace needs him.

The basketball scenes and cinematography are truly impressive. We’re right in the game.

It was important for me to shoot basketball in a way that we had never seen before. One of our main goals is to get the players to actually shoot. There are no notches where you can see the start of a shot and the ball going through the ring in another shot. In many basketball films, the sinking goes down to eight or nine feet. You can smell it when it does. We have players who have never played, who have really worked hard on their game, and actors who have worked very hard to improve their ball handling skills.

How do you hope viewers understand what Swagger is?

Very often this word “swagger” means bravado or masculinity. But on our show, “swagger” means doing more than you do, whether it’s your family, the community, or your team. It is this reason that gives you intestinal resistance to victory.


Where: Apple TV +

When: Any time

Rating: TV-14 (may not be suitable for children under 14)

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