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R.I.P. Winning Time


I was sorry to hear of the cancelation of HBO’s Winning Time, about the 1980s Lakers.


The end of season two served as the season finale—which, perversely, for a Boston fan like myself, was awesome, with the 1984 Lakers losing to the Celtics (which I remember).


The writing had been on the wall, as the creators themselves had been on social media warning, “You guys aren’t watching enough.” (See an interview here with one of them from Vulture.)


The show had a terrific cast, lots of style, fantastic production value, and fun details of the NBA of the period.


But I was starting to feel the dramatic momentum peter out. If you were writing the show as fiction, obviously you’d have the team get better, little by little—and it would culminate with winning a championship.


But as it turns out, the Lakers won the title in Jerry Buss’ first year as an owner. So winning again is just diminishing returns.


After Magic becomes Magic, Pat Riley becomes Pat Riley, and the franchise gets not one but two trophies—where do you go?


You start to manufacture drama, like Jerry getting sued for divorce. And it starts to feel like treading water.


But the first season in particular was a wonderful look at some larger-than-life personalities, with uncanny casting and outstanding performances. The second season was also terrific. But I guess the party is over.

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Neil Bulk
Neil Bulk
Oct 01, 2023

I enjoyed this and Perry Mason, another HBO show cancelled after two seasons. You know what else was cancelled today? My HBO Max subscription!

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