Trust us when we say this (because we can be trusted): YouTube’s loss is most definitely Netflix’s gain and the numbers are proof positive. Netflix’s Cobra Kai, once a YouTube property, recently gave subscribers a New Year’s gift by dropping season 3 a week early and in turn, subscribers have once again flocked to the show.
The streaming giant had no problem rubbing salt in the YouTube wound when they tweeted, “In its first four weeks, more than 41 million households are projected to wax on for Cobra Kai’s third season. Between all three seasons, 73 million households have checked out the show!”
The numbers are huge but shouldn’t come as a shock. When Cobra Kai first premiered on YouTube Red, the first season brought in 55 million views. The immediate and intense popularity made it a certain hit for YouTube, which made their decision to move away from scripted material much stranger.
For those who may not have seen an episode of Cobra Kai (it truly is a good show), the series is a continuation of the original The Karate Kid and its two sequels, The Karate Kid Part II and The Karate Kid Part III. While the series leans heavily on the nostalgia of The Karate Kid, it offers plenty for newcomers who may not have the same connection to the original movies.
Cobra Kai picks up 34 years after the events of the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament introducing a down and out Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who is a part-time handyman, living in a rundown apartment in Reseda, and has a penchant for getting totally obliterated (i.e., drunk). When we first see Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), he is the very successful owner of a car dealership chain, married to a beautiful wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), and has a high school-aged daughter, Samantha (Mary Mouser). The two have swapped lives. Johnny was the rich kid, living a life of luxury throughout high school while Daniel was struggling with his single mom, barely able to make ends meet. It’s a nice twist to their introductions.
Johnny also has a kid, Robby (Tanner Buchanan), who is Samantha’s age but is a major troublemaker. He lives with his barely-there mom and has no relationship whatsoever with Johnny. The series does a wonderful job of mixing the old with the new as it brings Johnny and Daniel’s life together by way of their children. Daniel continues to live by the values and morals Mr. Miyagi taught him while Johnny has no morals or values so his growth throughout the first three seasons is fun to watch.
While Daniel and Johnny are the core of the show, the kids are the spoon that stirs the pot. Samantha, Robby, and Miquel (the kid who lives in Johnny’s apartment complex) lead the way along with all the others who either take on the teachings of Johnny’s Cobra Kai or Daniel’s Miyagi-Do. The show’s fighting sequences come more frequently than expected but with reason. They carry a lot of punch and typically have lasting consequences, as evidenced by the season 2 finale that saw Miquel fall from the second-floor landing onto a stair railing, ending up with a broken back.
One of the biggest draws to the series is the original characters who come in and out of the show. Cobra Kai has given fans Daniel’s mom Mrs. LaRusso (Randee Heller), Johnny’s three friends from Cobra Kai Tommy, Bobby, and Jimmy, Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita), and Yuna (Traci Toguchi). Fans even got their wish toward the end of season 3 as Elisabeth Shue returned to her role as Ali Mills. Of course, we’d be remiss (and foolish) not to give Martin Kove his due. He has returned in a big way in Cobra Kai as John Kreese, Johnny’s mentor and father figure, who ran the original Cobra Kai. His presence is what has driven both season 2 and season 3, which fans saw end with Daniel and Johnny deciding to bury the hatchet (for the time being) so they could team up to take down Kreese for good. Season 4 is set and while we have an idea as to where the season is heading, don’t be surprised if a curveball or two is tossed in. Besides, there are more original characters we have not seen that just may make an appearance.
The numbers are big, but there is always room for bigger.