Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators: Season 1
July 3, 2023 10:57 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

A five-part documentary on the original American Gladiators series, a competition reality show that pitted muscular red-white-and-blue-spandex-clad Gladiators against more-or-less ordinary people as competitors in a series of unusual athletic contests and direct battles in the late eighties and early nineties. The show features interviews with many of the original Gladiators, show creators, staff, and competitors. Streaming on Netflix.

The series follows the show from the creation, through difficult (and painful) early days, success, touring, copious abuse of steroids and painkillers, resistance to renegotiation of their contracts, and eventually the end as a dinner show in Orlando. Although many of the original cast are interviewed, the bulk of the interviews are with Dan "Nitro" Clark, Raye "Zap" Hollitt, Myke "Gemini" Horton, and Lori "Ice" Fetrick. Many related stories and incidents are illustrated as very 80s/90s-type cartoon animation.

The 6 most shocking “American Gladiators” revelations from Netflix’s “Muscles & Mayhem” doc [Salon]

What Happened To The American Gladiators Seen In Netflix's Muscles & Mayhem Documentary [ScreenRant] - the subtitle to this claims that the doc doesn't say what happened to the featured Gladiators after the show was over, which isn't exactly true, but it does give more detail.
posted by Halloween Jack (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Given that American Gladiators was a part of my regular TV viewing as a teenager, I thought I'd give this a shot. But when that first painfully goofy animated bit popped up, I dropped out. I could see that if I was going to sit through a bunch of those, I wasn't going to make it.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:39 AM on July 4, 2023

I was kind of the opposite; I was never particularly a fan of the show--it was mildly amusing that these people with basically perfect bodies were doing things like shooting tennis balls at people with slightly less perfect bodies--but the interviews were compelling and the animation reminded me of the "G.I. Jeff" episode of Community.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:02 AM on July 4, 2023 [2 favorites]

So much cocaine. Every behind-the-scenes or tour bus clip, so much coked-out behavior. Unsurprising, but whoa. Drugs are a helluva drug.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:31 AM on July 4, 2023 [3 favorites]

I really liked this. Felt genuinely sad when two of the gladiators were talking about the childhood experiences that they believe led them to become bodybuilders, and it made me happy to think that, as adults, they'd gotten to a place where they could understand and contextualize those experiences.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2023 [4 favorites]

I liked the interviews with the Gladiators, they all had this sort of easygoing, self-aware charm about their experiences.
posted by champers at 3:05 AM on July 5, 2023

I liked it too. The shots from the tour, where they had these bulging bandages (presumably with ice packs underneath) were disturbing.
posted by Spike Glee at 12:27 PM on July 5, 2023

I watched the first episode and enjoyed it, but didn't feel the need to watch any more.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:25 PM on July 5, 2023

I haven't seen this yet, but here's my tangential American Gladiators story:

I was living in Japan 1988–90. When I moved back to the U.S., I was hanging out with some friends, and the movie The Running Man was on TV, which we sort of half-watched while socializing.

It's important to point out here that American Gladiators first aired in 1989.

When The Running Man was over, someone turned on American Gladiators, and I freaked out. I had been experiencing a lot of reverse culture shock, but this was something else. I screamed "That movie was supposed to be fiction!"
posted by adamrice at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2023 [4 favorites]

Holy crap, adamrice. That's the perfect juxtaposition.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 PM on July 5, 2023

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