Netflix finally dropped season 2 of Sunderland Til I Die, somewhat ironically, on April 1st.
The past few years feels like a cruel April Fool’s joke on supporters of the Black Cats. The Lads were relegated from the Premier League down to the Championship in 2017.
Fulwell 73 — a local production firm — filmed what they hoped would be Sunderland’s rise back into England’s top division. What they captured instead was an epic wheels-coming-off. Sunderland was relegated again down in to England’s third division.
A change in manager, leadership, and in the end ownership ushered in what they thought might be brighter days at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland Til I Die Season 2 Review
Season 2 picks up with new leadership explaining that the “piss take party” on Sunderland is stopping. Specifically, new executive director Charlie Methven chews up screen happily puffing his chest out, dropping eff bombs, using air quotes, and douchebagging his way all over the camera like someone who has watched Gordan Gecko speeches one too may times.
Methven makes for good TV. And he knows it.
But he’s got his work cut out for him. The club is bordering on insolvency. As Methven would say, the commercials “are fucked.” New front-facing owner Stewart Donald has immediate financial needs to keep the club above water.
The first team roster is gutted with key players released or sold. A new manager, Jack Ross, is brought in to right the ship.
Getting the pieces in place will be a challenge. After shedding so many players (maybe not a bad thing), Ross is building mostly from scratch. One player who did stick was Season 1 fan favorite, local lad George Honeyman. The diminutive midfielder takes the captain’s arm band in season 2.
Nothing to rave about…
Methven wants to create atmosphere at the Stadium of Light. With music.
His desire to turn the grounds into a giant rave seems to garner eye rolls from everyone. Doesn’t fit the club. Imagine Anfield having Skrillex drop the bass before every match instead of #ynwa. Maybe that would work at a fake club with no history like Manchester City, but not with Sunderland.
Something to rave about!
The first episode ends with Sunderland winning in dramatic fashion in the final moments of stoppage time.
The good vibes continue as Sunderland look like the class of League One.
But troubles abound!
Dropping from the EPL to League One in consecutive seasons would put a financial strain on any club. Sunderland is dealing with a £35m deficit. Methven recognizes this and does well explaining to the commercials side and fan base the importance of the club generating sustainable revenue.
Certain players stand out as well. Academy product Josh Maja starts the season on fire. Due to a poorly structured Academy contract and inability to negotiate a new deal, Sunderland end up losing Maja during the January transfer window to Bordeaux. Worse, the 1.5m Euro sale price put Sunderland in a precarious position. Maja is worth much more. And clubs know they’re desperate and price gauge them on possible replacements. Suffice to say Maja’s impending and eventual transfer casts a long shadow on the season.
Midfielder Luke O’Nien is another stand-out on the field and on camera. American Lynden Gooch grows into the season.
Ultimately though, it’s all about Maja. His a clear difference maker. His 15 goals before transfer ends up leading the team for the season.
The loss of Maja is hard to replace. Sunderland can’t keep pace at the top of League One. While relegation isn’t ever really a concern, automatic promotion starts slipping away.
The Checkatrade Trophy? The Checkatrade Trophy!
Before diving into non-promotion, episode 5 is a surprisingly compelling detour to Sunderland’s finals run in claiming the Checkatrade Trophy. Won’t spoil it, but let’s just say it’s a meaningful trip to Wembley and a fitting finale for Sunderland.
(Also, good call back to S1 Ep1 with the priest’s speech in this one)
So ultimately how is Sunderland Til I Die Season 2?
The production is fantastic . Fulwell creates a narrative and maintains clear and concise storytelling momentum. Yes, they could’ve maybe gotten more personal with Maja to make his departure more painful. And the build up of fake suspense around hitting the League One attendance record on Boxing Day (a tally they smashed with 46,000+) was odd / not genuine. Some more focus on individual player stories would’ve been good. However, these are small nits.
All in all, this is a well put together season. Sunderland Til I Die season 2 is a great binge. You’ll zip through the episodes and cross your fingers for a third season.