‘Welcome to Wrexham’ review: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buy soccer team in FX’s ‘Ted Lasso’ wannabe

The main problem is that everything about the exercise feels conspicuously contrived — less the product of inspiration than something agents cooked up over drinks — starting with the decision to film every part of the process to with the goal of making it into a TV show.

Reynolds and the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star’s earnest “We’re only doing this because we love the communal nature of sports” blather would sound more convincing if these Hollywood figures were not concocting entertainment (admittedly of a relatively cheap variety) around their efforts.

“Wrexham” also describes itself, as Reynolds bluntly describes it, as “an underdog story,” with new owners hoping to turn the struggling franchise into a winner and earn the team promotion to the top flight. which is the level of the English soccer league. The amount of time spent explaining how it all works is necessary, perhaps, but every bit as exciting as it sounds.

What remains, then, is a juggling of many elements, alternating between stars, up-close-and-personal stories about individual players and introductions to some part of the blue-collar fan base of country.

In short, “Welcome to Wrexham” can’t decide exactly what it wants to be, and ends up being nothing more. Like soccer, there is a lot of activity, without getting many points in its favor.

After previewing five episodes of the 18-episode first season, the best moment came at the beginning, when McElhenney talked about his dream of buying a team and how despite his TV wealth, “I need movie star money. “to make that happen. Throw in his gin game, at least that explains why McElhenney enlisted Reynolds, whom he had never met in person before the two became social-media pals.

It’s obviously no mystery why FX agreed to the idea, pairing an actor with a huge social-media following and the star/producer of one of the network’s long-running series. And while it’s fun to see people show up to games in Deadpool costumes, the show often reinforces the limitations of basing programming decisions on Instagram followers.

With the underdog aspect aside, it’s not “the real ‘Ted Lasso.'” In fact, at times it all feels so massaged and orchestrated, it doesn’t play like the real “Welcome to Wrexham. “

“Welcome to Wrexham” airs August 24 at 10 pm ET on FX, and August 25 on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK.