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Can The Real Housewives Keep Up With Formula 1?

When we were in Spain with the Martins a couple years ago, Steve and Cliff kept bugging Ariel and me about going to a Formula 1 race. But all we knew was the tickets were $300 and there was nothing about F1 in any of our guide books. So we didn't go. Fast forward to 2021 and my regret about not going when we had the chance is acute. What changed? Read below.

If you’re anything like me, you spent the last year combing through every streaming service to find anything remotely bearable to watch. You even got roped into watching an animated Star Wars series because your husband insists it’s “so good.” You’ve already watched every season of Survivor (the greatest show ever made) and frankly, you’re amazed by all the sub-par TV out there. Your patience runs thin when for some reason Netflix decides to give you a category called “Watch It Again.” Am I the only one that recognizes this as a shortcoming on their end?

So when your husband says something like “Let’s watch this race car documentary,” you roll your eyes but sit down for what you assume will be a Talladega Nights-esque evening (meaning you’ll fall asleep in 5-8 minutes to the sound of engines and southern drawl).

But...enter Netflix’s sleeper hit, Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

Yes, I know, the title is cheesy. But don’t let it throw you! For everything my husband finds interesting about the show, I find something equally intriguing. Exhibit A:

Something for me: Something for Cliff:

Let's do another one:

Something for me: Something for Cliff:

So you see, this show is not so bad, right?

Although I can’t tell the difference between any of the cars besides color, and I don’t really understand the need to drive 200+ miles per hour for two hours at a time, I do have a good eye for great reality TV. And this show is packed with juicy rivalries, betrayals, and obscenely wealthy (read: handsome) people.

Part of me is intrigued by the history of the racing and the details of the competition: drivers experience up to 5 Gs, teams are required to use varying tire grips during the race, and the steering wheel has more than 20 buttons, but I’ll let Cliff or Steve fill you in on the dry stuff. You’ll be more interested to know that each year 20 fit young men compete in 21 races in some of the most glamorous places in the world--Monaco, Singapore, Azerbaijan. In the year when none of us could travel, hearing new accents and seeing foreign and historic places is what we’re hungry for, and Drive to Survive delivers.

And to top it off:

Family dynasties? Check.

Accusations of fraud and international extraditions? Check.

Back biting? Grudge holding? Money grubbing? Check, check, and check.

Have I convinced you yet? If not, here are some of my reactions (and those of friends I’ve convinced to watch the show) while watching:

“Wait, am I obsessed with F1?”

“So juicy!”

“I kind of want to rewatch it already.”

“I can’t go to sleep yet, I need to know who Sebastian signs with!”

So let me tell you a little more. We are obsessed with the wealthy--we both love and hate them; but absolutely nothing beats an underdog story. You get both of these in Drive to Survive. The top teams in F1 are funded each year by up to $500 million dollars, and top drivers are rumored to make $50 million per year. So we get to speculate about who deserves to take a helicopter from the hotel to the track or whether the nose piercing is a real diamond (no duh). But we also learn that while some drivers were born with a silver spoon in their mouths (did someone say Stroll…?), others come from poverty and multiple job-holding parents. You begin to have favorites. You begin to feel sympathy for drivers who may lose their spot on a team. You, yes you, begin to cheer for specific people in the most high stakes car race you’ve never heard of.

And then there are the principals, the people who run the teams. Here is a group of Type A individuals who don’t take “no” for an answer. Yes, there are some handsome ones (as my husband says about Toto Wolff, “he’s…a MAN”), and yes, one of them is married to Ginger Spice, but I’ll let you do the googling. The drama comes when the principals decide if they will keep a driver for the next season or let him go. What combination of car and driver can make it to the top? What is more valued: the driver (and their sponsorships) or the car? How can the driver leverage their racing position? There are only 20 spots in Formula 1; didn’t I say something about Survivor being a good show?

I finally realized that the show’s producers have essentially developed a more action packed and--dare I say--sophisticated Real Housewives show, which of course is no insult. Because let me ask you this: is there anything better than passive aggression on reality TV? And is there any better way to hide this “passive” aggression than by “accidentally” swiping the rear tire off your teammate’s car in Turn 1 at 150mph? Oh, the rivalries are rich and complex, and these guys know what they’re doing.

Overall, the best part is that you’re watching people who are at the absolute top of their game, physically and mentally. They work hard, they want to be the best, and they’ll do anything to get there. So pour the tea, my friends, and ask your husband if he wants to watch a little Formula 1 with you.

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