Home Game

Dept. of Curious Contests


Too small to be a war, too cruel to be a game.

Henry III
A member of the red team making a move to score in the traditional Calcio Storico game in Home Game.

Home Game opens with a bang. As the season opener to a series about unique – and dangerous – traditional sports from around the world, nothing fits that description better than the uniquely Florentine sport of Calcio Storico. Three matches a year, that take place over two weeks, the Calcio is played for little more than pride and bragging rights for the coming year. It is brutal, violent, and dripping with testosterone. 

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one it its nets of wonder forever.

Jacques Cousteau
A free diver preparing for their attempt in the Philippines in Home Game.

Home Game, Netflix’s latest documentary series is both a study of strange sports, and the people and community who are keeping it alive. Over the course of eight episodes, the series takes the audience from the beautiful storied city of Florence, to the highlands of Scotland, to the deepest depths of the Philippine ocean, to the historic city of Varanasi, India. Narrated by Mark Strong, each episode follows a cast of characters in the run up to their big championship day – be it on horseback for the Kok Boru championship, or on buffalo for the Makepung Lamping race – while also providing a clear primer into the sport itself. How it’s played. How it’s won.

Roll Out.

Optimus Prime
A competitor being introduced to the roller derby crowd in Home Game.

The selection of sports being featured in this series is admittedly a bit of a mixed bag. There were two episodes that didn’t quite hit home with me personally. The first, was about a roller derby in Austin, Texas. In a series about “traditional” sports, I’m afraid the roller derby doesn’t really feel like it qualifies. Especially since the sport of roller derby isn’t unique to the culture, as there are other similar competitions around the world. The other episode that didn’t work for me the one on Catch Fétiche, the wrestling form practiced in Congo that imbues voodoo mysticism on top of the sport. The wresting being discussed here isn’t traditional greco-roman wrestling (that’s featured later in the form of a traditional Indian wrestling called Pehlwani). This wrestling is the WWE show wrestling. You know, costumes, showmanship, and written stories. That kind of wrestling. Yes, my view on this is probably due to a longstanding bias against that form of wrestling to be considered a sport, so take it as you will.

I live my life a quarter mile at a time.

Dominic Toretto
A jockey riding his buffalo in Bali in the traditional race of Makepung Lamping in Home Game.

As a big fan of sports and documentaries (the Amazon Prime series on the Australian cricket team of 2019 is a fantastic watch), Home Game hit a particular sweet spot for me. There were a few low episodes, but overall, the series was a good watch and I am definitely looking forward to more episodes. On the off chance someone from the production is reading this, here are a three suggestions: the Royal Shrovetide football match from England, gaelic football from Ireland, or the Palio di Siena from Italy. 

Home Game
Netflix, 1 season, 8 episodes
Cast: Mark Strong

Home Game is now streaming on Netflix.

For more sports documentaries, here’s a list of 6 football documentaries, Sunderland Football Club, Formula 1, and Maradona in Mexico.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne star in The Old Guard.
Previous Story

The Old Guard: A Conversation with Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne

Unsolved Mysteries title card.
Next Story

Unsolved Mysteries, Vol. 1

Latest from Docuseries

High Score

Netflix's latest nostalgia tinged documentary series takes a look at the early