Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are two of the funniest actors around. From Van Wilder to Deadpool and It’s Always Sunny to Mythic Quest, these dudes know how to make people laugh. Which brings us to “Welcome To Wrexham,” a new soccer-centric docuseries on FX and Hulu that premiered this week starring Reynolds and McElhenney. What exactly is Welcome to Wrexham and who is its target audience? Having watched the first two episodes, here are my takeaways.
Welcome To Wrexham is a docuseries following Reynolds and McElhenney as they attempt to buy and then run a soccer club. That team is Wrexham AFC, the third oldest club in the world. The Welsh club competes in the fifth division of the English football league system at the Racecourse Ground, the world’s oldest international stadium still around.
Reynolds and McElhenney — henceforth referred to as RR McReynolds as they named the company created to buy Wrexham — were approved as new owners in November 2020 with 98.6 percent backing of the Supporters Trust, skyrocketing the little-known club into superstardom immediately. The club was soon added to FIFA 22, the first non-league side ever included in the franchise.
With increased media attention (we sure ate it up with article after article), RR McReynolds hired a documentary crew to record the entire process from purchasing to running the club, resulting in the Welcome To Wrexham series we’ve been eagerly awaiting for months. Was it going to be like Amazon Prime Video’s superb All or Nothing series ? Perhaps it would be a parody like The Office full of plenty It’s Always Sunny antics and Deadpool fourth wall breaking?
Well, after two episodes, I can safely say it is neither All or Nothing nor a comedy. So should you watch Welcome To Wrexham?
Should You Watch Welcome To Wrexham?
There are two primary audiences who will be interested in watching Welcome To Wrexham. The first is, obviously, soccer fans who want to see the inner workings of a club in the lower divisions, the type of people who have watched every episode of “Sunderland ‘Til I Die” and still want more. The second is fans of RR McReynolds, who have created a legion of fans with their ability to make people laugh. There’s also a smaller subset of fans who are really into reality TV or are interested in the lives of RR McReynolds and their celebrity partners (Reynolds is married to actress Blake Lively and McElhenney is married to It’s Always Sunny co-star Kaitlin Olson).
To fans who fall into two or more target audiences of this show, you will absolutely love Welcome To Wrexham. As a longtime fan of RR McReynolds and soccer documentaries, I quite enjoyed the first two episodes. You get to see behind the scenes as RR McReynolds go through the nerve-wracking process of buying Wrexham and the drama of the club failing to reach the playoffs in the first half-season of the new ownership (sorry that’s a spoiler but considering it was more than a year ago you should know this by now). I loved learning Reynolds and McElhenney never met in person until after they purchased the club, along with other tidbits you only get in a docuseries like this.
That said, if you’re not all-in on the idea of the show, you might not enjoy it. (Note: See end for update.)
Welcome To Wrexham tries a bit too hard to be too many things at once. It’s not quite an enthralling All or Nothing-esque series about Wrexham; the producers either aren’t able to or aren’t interested in building up the theater of the travails of a football club. It’s not quite an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the roles RR McReynolds play at the club (Reynolds was barely in the second episode). It’s not at all a look into the celebrity lives of RR McReynolds, as neither owner’s partner has made much of an appearance. And it’s not a documentary about the town of Wrexham and its inhabitants, though it tries to some extent.
If you fall into the niche of being an RR McReynolds fan and a soccer fan, you should watch Welcome To Wrexham without question. You probably already have FX and/or Hulu (or Disney+ if you’re in the UK/Ireland), so make sure to add it to your list of shows to watch as six more episodes will be released over the coming month (two per week until Sept. 14).
A decent chunk of fans tuned in for the series premiere on Wednesday. The first episode drew 319,000 viewers, which may not seem like a ton, but that’s more than the viewership on ESPN for the LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders match on Friday night (296,000).
The first two episodes of Welcome To Wrexham set the stage for what could be a fantastic docuseries on a fifth-tier Welsh club. While it might take the star power of RR McReynolds and the allure of locker room football footage to draw people in, those who are at least partially interested will enjoy it. Will your parents who have never seen Deadpool or It’s Always Sunny or your friends who don’t care about soccer enjoy the show? Maybe not.
As always, your mileage may vary. It’s an intriguing show for a specific niche. You probably already know if you are interested or not, so all that’s left to do is watch it or ignore it.
Update Sept. 1, 2022
After watching the third and fourth episodes, I now feel this show will be enjoyed by more than just soccer fans who like RR McReynolds.
Episodes 3 and 4 featured more of the RR McReynolds humor we love, almost as if the creators saw feedback from the first two episodes and immediately added more for the next two episodes. Additionally, there was more human drama and less focus on the actual happenings on the pitch, which I think gives Welcome To Wrexham a broader appeal.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.