"Winning Time mostly works because it’s willing to push back on the notion of a shared 'official' history, break from the usual hymns of nostalgic sports lore, and dig into the messy subjectivity that gets smoothed over in the construction of a legacy," says Nicholas Quah. "Which is why the season finale ultimately felt so inert. As we barrel through the finals and zero in on the Lakers’ eventual triumph, the show becomes increasingly conventional, doubling back way too hard toward the underdog-sports-flick component of its DNA. The interesting work the show had been doing with its characters is pushed to the side in order to give this fictional iteration of the Showtime Lakers the glory that syncs them up with the image held by their real-world counterparts. Winning forgives everything, as they say, but watching a preordained win is unforgiving in its insipidity. This may well prove to be a fundamental storytelling problem for the show as it continues: Because the Showtime Lakers won so much, as a fictionalized story 'based on true events,' it seems like Winning Time can only lose."
TOPICS: Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, HBO