I don’t watch American Ninja Warrior all that often, but every time I do I find myself enjoying it far more than I expected. Last night, NBC aired Week 1 of the National Finals, and it was a rad time. Bunches of seasoned competitors were undone by a particularly difficult course, and Jessie Graff became the first woman to ever make it through the first stage of the finals. And yet, it was one of the worst runs of the night that has stuck with me.
Like a lot of competition shows with high production values, American Ninja Warrior dedicates quite a bit of airtime to the inspiring/heartwarming personal histories of the competitors. Many of the competitors are introduced via a treacly video package in which they explain how they overcame [insert obstacle] to get where they are today, and right as their story ends NBC cuts to the competitor getting ready to take on the course. It’s a great way to get you invested in the athletes and pumped for them to succeed.
One competitor who got the heartwarming backstory treatment during last night’s episode was Lucas Gomes. This dude originally missed a trip to the finals by one spot, but was later called into action after another competitor dropped out. And then he was involved in a serious car accident, and then... well just watch:
So here’s the thing about American Ninja Warrior: it’s pre-recorded! This means that, in the event that one of the athletes who has been tabbed to participate in an emotional storyline happens to crash out of the contest in embarrassing fashion, they can scrap the whole teary-eyed video package before the show airs and just let the poor schmuck fail in anonymity. A ton of people who got thoroughly owned by last night’s course weren’t made to suffer the embarrassment of failing on national TV, and yet the show’s producers hung Gomes out to dry. It was a savage decision, but I respect it.