According to Coach Jason Brown, season four of Last Chance U should be called a ’shit show’.
He’s not wrong. Independence Community College’s 2018 football season is a bit of a shit show. After coming off a 9-2 winning season in 2017 – the first winning season this team had had in 10 years – the Pirates were picked to win the conference in 2018. Winning a national championship was also a reasonable and seemingly attainable goal. But none of that happened. Instead, the team won their first game and their last game, losing every other game in between to end the season with a 2-8 record.
Unfortunately, the losing brought a lot of turmoil within the team. No one brought their ‘A’ game; plays couldn’t be completed and balls were often intercepted, which brought a lot of players’ athletic abilities into question. Guys slowly started accusing each other of playing for scholarships rather than each other and there was constant bickering as a result.
There was even chaos on the coaches’ side of things. As hard as they tried, they couldn’t seem to get on the same page either. We saw multiple coaches get fired in the middle of the season. Viewers even saw quarterback coach Gonzalo Morales tell his players that he planned on resigning as soon as the season was done because he “couldn’t deal with this toxic shit no more”.
The losing also brought to light a lot of criticism that may have otherwise been overlooked, especially of Coach Brown and his coaching style. Jeff Sims, Head Coach at Garden City Community College, said it best in episode 4×01: “Jason Brown is a star, right or wrong. He is everything Hollywood wants because he makes people talk.” This is exactly why he was the breakout star of season 3. His unfiltered, intense, brash and honest approach to coaching got people talking, but his passion for the kids arguably shined brighter. And the team was winning so that helped too.
But in season 4, Coach Brown’s unique approach to coaching might have been the cause of his own undoing. In the last twenty minutes of episode 8, we learn the full backstory as to why Coach Brown resigned from ICC in February 2019. The Montgomery Country Chronicle reported that Coach Brown referred to himself as redshirt freshman Alexandros Alexiou’s “new Hitler” in a series of text messages. You hear from both Alexiou and Brown about what happened. You also hear other players, coaches, ICC staff members, and community members’ opinions on the whole situation, which allows each viewer to form their own opinion on the situation.
But even though ICC’s football season might have technically been a shit show, season 4 of Last Chance U was not. The storytelling is still gritty, raw and authentic. After 4 seasons, you would think the unparalleled access that director Greg Whiteley and his team get to the team for 6 months would no longer surprise me, but it continues to, especially during a season like this where everything that could go wrong does.
The show also sticks with it’s successful formula of highlighting a few specific players throughout the season. But unlike the 6 students that were focused on in season 3, they only focused on 4 this time around: Jay Jones, Markiese King, Kailon Davis, and Chance Main. Cutting back on the number of students really allowed viewers to get to know the ones that were focused on. I honestly think this my favorite group of students since the initial group in season 1. They had a lot of personality, as evident from moments like Kailon showing off his Wonder Woman comforter and spraying his two cans of Febreeze everywhere or Chance showing up to class in a cowboy hat and leather vest. They were also a really relatable group of guys because not everything was all sunshine and rainbows for them. In the end, Markiese had to withdraw ICC in Spring 2019 due to his mother’s health and Jay is still evaluating his offers, trying to land on a D1 roster somewhere this fall.
I also really enjoyed getting to know a few select people who are just as important to football team’s success as the players and coaches themselves. Last Chance U has always introduced us to these people, but we never got to spend much time with them (the lone exception to this being academic advisor Brittany Wagner in seasons one and two). Athletic trainer Raechal Martin helps players rehab their injuries and guide them through their comebacks, especially Jay Jones, who had three separate injuries throughout the same season. Heather Mydosh and Jared Wheeler are professors at ICC, who both form bonds with Kailon Davis. They try to ensure that he not only remains eligible to transfer to a Division I university, but hopefully realize that “what’s in his brain is more important than the helmet that goes on it” as Mydosh puts it. There’s also defensive coordinator,Jason Martin’s wife, Jessica. She takes care of her and Jason’s three children in dorm-room accommodations – where they stay so that they can maximize Jason’s limited free time – all while studying for her degree.
I’ve said some variation of this in each of my reviews for this show, but I cannot recommend this series enough, whether you’re a sports fan or not. It’s beyond worth the 8 hours of your time. I don’t know if there will be a season 5, especially after the “shit show” that was season 4, but I really hope there is. These stories are so much more than football stories; all of the drama, success, personal growth, and reflection that is shown makes for a compelling human story and I want more of them.
Season 4 is now available to stream on Netflix.