Welcome to Wrexham season 2 finally premiered this Tuesday, which meant it was time for me to boot up Hulu and give the first episode a watch. And after having seen it, I can safely say that they did not break the mold this season. It’s largely the same formula that made season 1 such a success, but there are a few choices in this episode that take away from the magic.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Welcome to Wrexham is a documentary on FX that follows the journey of Wrexham A.F.C., a football club in the Welsh town of Wrexham, after it has been acquired by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. After episodes air in the U.S. on FX, they’re available the next day to stream on Hulu in the U.S. or Disney Plus everywhere else.
And if that’s all you’re familiar with about the show, let this serve as your spoiler warning, because from here on out everything covered in episode 1 of season 2 is fair game.
Spoiler alert: Spoilers for Welcome to Wrexham follow
Welcome to Wrexham season 2 episode 1: This needed to be two episodes
Episode 1 of season 2 is longer than usual — instead of a half hour, it’s a full hour of Reynolds, McElhenney & Co., though on Hulu it’s closer to 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it really should have stuck with the half-hour format.
The first episode focuses on two distinct storylines: putting a cap on last season and starting a new season of football, and getting funding for a new Kop stand in the Racehorse ground. And unfortunately, the show goes back and forth between the two with very little cohesion.
Some of this may be down to trying to keep with chronological order, but the two storylines are disparate enough that they could have each gotten their own episode. And frankly, both would have been able to shine significantly more with an entire episode devoted to each. If they had, the drama of this episode would have felt more engaging. This is a shame because there is plenty of drama by the time the episode ends.
Welcome to Wrexham season 2 needs to not fast-forward the drama
Unfortunately, Reynolds and McElhenney decided to fast-forward past some of the drama — in McElhenney’s case, literally. Seriously, the show actually fast-forwards through Wrexham’s gutting loss to Grimsby Town in the National League promotion playoff semifinal. They do it because McElhenney doesn’t want to dwell on the loss, but what a waste of a gripping moment.
Granted, this shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Welcome to Wrexham over its run has always tried to be optimistic at heart. It’s a public relations piece as much as it is a documentary.
But it’s not like the show lacks drama, or even hides from it. Episode 1 ends on a relatively down note with the news that the U.K. government won’t allow public funds to fund the Kop rebuild. In fact, the second half of the episode does a good job of keeping you engaged and the drama at the forefront.
Again, the issue here isn’t the story — it’s the choices made in the editing room. And it’s not like they left too much on the cutting room floor either. Overall, there is enough in this episode to compel you. But the showrunners for Welcome to Wrexham need to do a better job putting the story together. This episode felt rushed at times and lacked a cohesive story.
Hopefully by going back to half-hour episodes for the rest of the season, Welcome to Wrexham season 2 will take the time to devote an episode to one storyline and lean into what makes it great. Otherwise, it may find itself committing too many howlers — putting its next season in doubt.