The Atlantic

Viceland’s Dark Side of the Ring Shows the Sleaze and Humanity of Wrestling

The series explores the disaster and reality of the shadowy sport.
Source: Walter McBride / Corbis / Getty

Pro wrestling: Is there a deeper homage to the innocence of the American character? Around these gifted performers, these godlike men with their huge and brilliantly crude personas, spreads the American public at its most medieval, its most pageantry-besotted and morally inflamed. Boo! Hiss! Hooray! Not everybody believes it’s real, of course. Maybe nobody believes it’s real. But many choose to be persuaded by its magnificence. “The public appears disposed to be amused even when they are conscious of being deceived,” said P. T. Barnum, who knew what he was talking about.

Viceland’s six-part series gets at the real/not-real question by zooming in on a series of shadowy happenings from the : the pro-wrestling boom on opioids—and a roster of excitable, voluble, unreliable talking heads from the world of pro wrestling.

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