Soccer Sabbatical Binge: Is Netflix’s The English Game Worth Watching?

Written By Chops on April 13, 2020 - Last Updated on April 14, 2020

With the beautiful game on sabbatical till at least early May, it’s a good time to catch up on some scripted soccer programming.

Also read: Sunderland Til I Die Season 2 Review 

It took awhile, but we got through Netflix’s The English Game. Here are some quick thoughts on if it’s worth you time.

The English Game on Netflix Review

The concept of The English Game is a good one: set in 1879, it’s a mostly true account looking back at the start of modern soccer and how it developed among the class culture in the UK.

It often times feels like it’s underwritten by the FA Cup. You’ll almost immediately know what I’m talking about there.

The English Game stars a who’s who of “I’ve seen that guy in BBC war series!” and “Hey she’s on Game of Thrones!” That’s mostly a compliment. It’s smartly cast with solid actors.

The one kind of sort of miscast character is Margaret Alma Kinnaird (played by Charlotte Hope). You’ll remember Hope as Ramsey Bolton’s psycho girlfriend Myranda. If you’ve seen GoT, you’ll have a hard time feeling sympathy for Hope in a role that requires it. She does fine. It’s not her fault. But it’s a tough one to get past.

Otherwise, it’s well acted. Hope’s husband in the series, Arthur Kinnaird (played by Edward Holcroft) is a particular stand out in a role that requires some tricky depth. The other central figure, Fergus Suter (played by Kevin Guthrie) feels too one-dimensional at times.

The six episodes look great and authentic. However, they can also plod along. Plot developments feel more forced than organic at times. Episodes do well when focused on the actual sport (from match play to rivalries to how it developed in its amateur infancy) and less on some of the character backstory.

Should I watch The English Game on Netflix?

In the pantheon of streaming soccer show, The English Game tucks safely behind Sunderland ‘Til I Die, Amazon’s This Is Football, and HBO’s Maradona.

It’s a 5.5 or 6 out of 10. You’re not going to plow through it. But you’ll keep coming back to watch.

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Chops is the executive producer of High Press Soccer. He's an unabashed Liverpool fan who will absolutely let that bias seep into his reporting and analysis.

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