Swagger Season 1 Review – This basketball drama is not a slamdunk

Season 1

Episode Guide

NBA – | Review Score – 3/5
Haterade – | Review Score – 3/5
Mano A Mano – | Review Score – 4/5
We Good? – | Review Score – 3.5/5
24 Hour Person – | Review Score – 3/5
All On The Line – | Review Score – 3/5
#RADICALS – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Still I Rise
Follow Through


There have been a lot of sport dramas over the years, both on the big and small screen. Never one to miss a trick, AppleTV throw their hat in the ring (or basketball court in this particular example) for a simple, formulaic and somewhat lackluster 10 episode drama.

All the usual suspects are here, mixed in with a tepid blend of real life issues that eventually undermine the more powerful emotional stories of the season. The focus here is on a youth basketball team called Swagger. Their star player is the main protagonist, teen sensation Jace Carson. He’s hot stuff; the proverbial next big thing. However, basketball is a team sport and across the 10 episodes he comes to learn that the hard way.

While the focus does remain on Jace for large stretches of the story, there’s an equal emphasis on some of his teammates too, who each get the chance to shine in the spotlight. Fellow teammates Royale, Phil and Nick Mendez all get their own subplots here, while Crystal Jarrett is completely underutilized in what’s arguably one of the most important storylines. Her abuse at the hands of her coach is easily the most harrowing moment of the season but it’s frustratingly swept aside for large swathes of the run-time.

For the first four or five episodes, Swagger actually does quite well to depict the trials and tribulations of a youth basketball team. Unfortunately, around episode 5 onward, the focus shifts from the basketball across to real world issues. The execution though feels completely crowbarred into the story in the most unnatural way possible.

I wouldn’t say the show is pandering but it does feel condescending sometimes with the way it implements these ideas. It’s something that a lot of shows in the west have completely slipped up with, to tell the truth. The only example of a show injecting COVID into a story naturally is that of K-drama Happiness, using COVID as a spring-board for a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller, examining the very real human condition of selfless and selfishness.

The actual action on the basketball court is quite good and the final few episodes do manage to crescendo the drama up to a pretty dramatic and exciting finish to the season. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to make this a worthwhile endeavour. The story drags its heels on numerous occasions and – like many of Apple’s other shows – could easily have condensed down its story into a more palatable dose.

Given how many other sport dramas there are out in the wild, Swagger is definitely not one to remember. There’s some good ideas here but it’s dragged out unnecessarily with focus in the complete wrong place. A shame for sure but Swagger is definitely not a slam dunk.

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  • Verdict - 5/10

3 thoughts on “Swagger Season 1 Review – This basketball drama is not a slamdunk”

  1. Swagger is awesome! Do y’all reviewers live in the DMV? That TV show has real emotions and really shows and made me cry. My father past the same way and time Meg’s Dad passed. It helped me with my grief. Big up to the actors, writers and all the production team. Thank you❣️

  2. I enjoyed this enough to bother commenting here. Agree very much with the review above. Not knowing the world of American school basketball it was something of an education. Enjoyed the on-court action scenes though others may point to better examples. I’d been attracted to it after reading it was created by those responsible for the excellent Friday Night Lights. Very much agree that the series seemed to change about half way through. Was its production adversely affected by Covid? That’s the only reason I can give for the Musa character being banished to California (apart from providing opportunity for yet more iPhone product placement). By far the most disturbing and plot jarring aspect was the brutal attack on the sex predator coach. Not only questionable morally (and legally), also almost certainly career ending for the young players if discovered. It remained as a sub plot though it would have trumped all others if the perpetrators had been revealed. They appear to get away with it, despite the parent detective saying he has new leads. Perhaps it’s the thread for the next series.

  3. SWAGGER IS not only a show to watch, but to engage oneself in life’s values. Young people are faced with realistic encounters that compel them into decision-making. Trials and tribulations confront them, whether they’re consoling, challenging or rejecting those with whom they communicate. Internal struggles, as well, latch on like wild fire. People who have never encountered life’s hard knocks may have difficulty relating to the drama’s intended meaning. Those with such daily encounters understand the underlying messages embedded in racism, pride, family, justice, dreams, assumptions, etc.SWAGGER proffers so much to the youth and the elderly, to females and males. It is indeed a remarkable teaching tool.

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