Netflix subscribers will be able to stream the second season of Sunderland ‘Til I Die from April 1st.
Ahead of the sequel to one of the most captivating football documentary of recent times, Dream Team spoke to Leo Pearlman, who, alongside Ben Winston and brothers Gabe and Ben Turner, owns Fulwell73, the production company behind the series.
With the world largely confined to their homes amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, the need for enthralling television is at a premium.
Pearlman notes the timing of the release may also allow the documentary to provide a worthy lesson in these taxing times.
“There’s something amazing to take from a community when we’re going through what we’re going through at the moment globally,” he says.
“There’s a lesson to be learned, or something to be seen, about togetherness. I hope people take a positive message from the show.”
Fans of the show will remember optimism was scarce in the first season as, after setting sights on promotion to the Premier League, the club suffered relegation to League One amid a culture of disorganisation and discontentment.
Much of season two focuses on the new ownership’s efforts to fix the disconnect between boardroom and the fans.
“When Charlie [Methven, Executive Director] and Stewart [Donald, owner] came in and took over, the club was in absolute disarray,” Pearlman explains.
“I would argue the club itself was rotten to the core. There needed to be massive changes, philosophically and psychologically.”
Within the first five minutes of the first episode of the new season, Methven summarises the old regime’s tenure.
“It is a failed, f**ked up business,” he tells a room of dumbstruck employees. “This was f**ked. 100% f**ked.”
While much of season two centres on the new regime’s improvements, it is not without the tragedy that made season one so compelling.
“The experience of watching sport for most people is that of watching their team be not very good,” Pearlman says. “It’s not a positive experience, it’s tiny, tiny moments of positivity amid an ocean of negativity.
“That’s why it [season one] spoke to people across the globe. I don’t think that has changed much in the second series.
“In fact, the manner in which we didn’t get promotion – and managed to lose the cup final on penalties – is exactly the reason why it will appeal to those same fans.”
The relentless calamity of errors of the first season has been replaced with a journey of hope dashed at the last in the most brutal manner imaginable.
Sunderland lost the fewest games in League One in 2018/19 but their season was defined by two heartbreaking defeats at Wembley in the EFL Trophy Final and the Play-Off Final.
When asked what moment fans can most look forward to in season two, Pearlman singled out the night before the cup final against Portsmouth.
“The taking over of London,” he says. “The taking over of Trafalgar Square. I’m sat here in my house and I genuinely have goosebumps thinking back to that night before the final.”
All of Fulwell73’s owners are Sunderland fans and Pearlman admits their attachment made the filmmaking process difficult at times.
“Sitting in an edit and watching your team lose in the last minute of a Play-Off Final 126 times is pretty tough,” he adds.
Ultimately, those in control felt duty bound to produce something honest, even if that meant exposing their beloved club’s vulnerabilities.
“We made it very clear that we weren’t going to make a puff piece,” Pearlman says. “If something negative happened, we would follow it and include it. The club had no editorial control.”
Fans can expect more of the same in terms of access and cinematography.
Hoping to provide transparency for the fans, Donald and Methven allowed the cameras close proximity throughout the course of the season.
Pearlman believes the pair will be the two most-discussed individuals as a result.
“Charlie and Stewart gave us incredible access to themselves and their team. They were so open and generous with their time,” he adds.
“They are big characters in this show and will probably be the ones people come out talking out.”