Welcome to Wrexham: When Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny Bought a British Soccer Team

Welcome to Wrexham is a much-anticipated F.X. series starring Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenny, and a host of Welsh characters living in the town of Wrexham. The first season of this sports documentary series concluded this October after 18 episodes.

Wrexham is one of the poorest towns in Wales, so when news of the Hollywood stars’ takeover arrived on Welsh shores in 2020, the inevitable hysteria followed. The reason for them choosing Wrexham, however, was somewhat vague. This was compounded by the fact that neither had ever visited the town in north Wales.

Life-long Philadelphia Eagles fan and Pennsylvania native McElhenny states how Wrexham is similar to where he grew up: a place where people work hard for what they have. Reynolds gives a similar account, being also from a working-class background like his business partner.

With echoes of Ted Lasso still reverberating across the TV world, this must have been a very quick pitch in the FX office. The premise: Two mainstream stars — one a household name; the other, a less well-known but really nice guy with a successful comedy show — decide to buy a soccer team in one of the most deprived areas of a former industrial heartland in Britain. Sold.

We're Not So Different

Wrexham is like many run-down towns in America's Rust Belt. It is not clear that this premise would work with an inverse scenario — two British actors investing in a run-down Rust Belt sports team. Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Coogan buying the Williamsport Crosscutters, anyone?

One can only imagine the producers' enthusiasm when picturing two clueless actors in a fish-out-of-water tale set in a gritty, post-industrial Welsh coal country. As Hollywood plots go, you couldn't ask for a more potentially hilarious one.

What follows is one of the great bromances in reality TV history and an engaging TV show. Reynolds and McElhenny play out a real-life buddy comedy as they face the harsh reality of what they have just stepped into.

Sports fanatic McElhenny first thought about buying a soccer team when he discovered that small soccer teams could climb the English leagues to the top.

After a little research, McElhenny returned to Earth: “I realized that I was going to need something more than TV money,” says the Philly native. “I needed movie star money — more than that, I needed superhero movie star money.”

Enter Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, who makes such an endearing real-life character that the show's success is as much about him and Rob as the team. The only criticism is not that they make it about themselves, but they don't appear in it more often.

A Wide Angle Lens

Welcome to Wrexham is similar to Amazon Prime Video‘s much-loved All or Nothing format, though much closer to Netflix's brilliant Sunderland' Til I Die. It zooms in on the club players and staff, the local supporters, business owners, and community members who give the club and town a human face, often sharing a tragic backstory. Themes such as street crime, economic hardship, and pregnancy all fit seamlessly with the spectacle of lower-league English soccer.

It provides territory that Rob and Ryan are acutely aware of. The opening episode shows them strolling an empty pitch for the first time, the weight of the town's expectations now firmly on their shoulders. It's a sobering moment for them both and it’s this understanding that marks the show as unique among other sports documentary series.

After this, fans of Reynolds and McElhenny must be wondering if they will ever make a movie together. There's no need. Welcome to Wrexham is confirmed for another season, so there will be plenty of Rob and Ryan to come.

For those who love sports, Welcome to Wrexham is a must-watch. For those who don't, it provides a fascinating exploration of a post-industrial, post-Brexit, post-pandemic British town and its religious attachment to the local soccer team.

All Season 1 episodes of Welcome to Wrexham are available to stream on HULU and Disney+.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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