The Christmas period is tailor made for binge-watching series you may not have got round to watching yet.
And while in previous years we’d have had to resort to yet another episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys, the modern era gives us all a welcome opportunity to avert our eyes from Brendan O’Carroll et al.
Let us introduce you to the new Netflix documentary ‘Til I Die’, which charts Sunderland’s 2017/18 season, and why you’d be a fool to not get your eyes on it over the festive period.
1 It basically all goes wrong within 15 minutes of the first episode
Spoiler alert: Sunderland’s season was so bad that the documentary offers 10 minutes of optimism at the start before it all hits the fan with a 5-0 friendly defeat against Celtic.
It’s downhill from thereon, and fascinating to see.
2 The access is truly remarkable
From being inside the CEO’s car after another poor result to having a static camera always fixed in the physio room, the series producers have somehow convinced the main protagonists to have a camera in their face in the lowest points of the season, which, as it happens, are quite regularly.
3 It’s bleak. Oh, it’s bleak.
But that’s a good reason to watch it, of course. If might not fill you with festive cheer, but it’s certainly an incredible depiction of reality.
“They drove me to drink yesterday. I don’t normally have a drink on a school night… I had a vodka about like that” says the club chef at one point, signalling that she’d poured herself at least a quadruple measure. That’s what this season did to most people, it seems.
4 You end up genuinely caring about stuff you ordinarily couldn’t care less about
You sit there watching, hoping that events will turn around for the Black Cats, crossing your fingers anxiously that this might be the decisive point in the season.
Before you know it you’re investing all your emotional energy nervously waiting to see if they can finally get a deadline day deal across the line for Ross McCormack.
Surely all hope is lost.
5 There’s a quasi-religious element to it
The series starts in a Catholic church with the priest praying for Sunderland’s season. The stadium is the fans’ cathedral, and there’s repeated references to needing divine inspiration throughout the season. Spoiler alert again: it’s not forthcoming.
6 It’s clearly made with a lot of love
Which is hardly surprising, given Fulwell73, the production company behind the series, are a group of Sunderland fans. So much so their company name is a nod to the Black Cats’ former stadium, with the 73 coming from the year they won the FA Cup.
They obviously know the club inside out but the fact it’s also a passion project elevates it to being beyond just a normal documentary.
7 There are some genuinely touching moments
It’s not all entirely doom and gloom throughout, despite the season’s conclusion. Captain George Honeyman stands out, the relationship between academy graduates Josh Maja and Joel Asoro is incredibly heartwarming and the overall passion the fans have for the club is obvious to see.
The good news is that despite the crushing lows of the 2017/18 season, the Black Cats are flying high in League One, and a second series is being filmed.
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