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Now Streaming: Sunderland 'Til I Die, Season 3

The third and final season of this docuseries feels out of date now that Welcome to Wrexham won our hearts.

Sunderland 'Til I Die, Season 3 | Netflix
Sunderland 'Til I Die, Season 3 (2024)

• Player Rating: 6.3
• Stream: Netflix
• Running Time: 3 episodes, 42 to 43 minutes each
• Audience: Ages 10 and older

The third and final season of Sunderland 'Til I Die documents the team's battle to earn promotion to the EFL Championship — and finally escape the shame of playing in League One. But this series, which began in 2018, feels out of date now that the likable Welcome to Wrexham is on the air, and you can't help but think that the team behind Sunderland 'Til I Die simply wanted to wrap it up and move on. The off-field storytelling will feel a little flat for neutral fans, but the soccer games make for good TV. Consider it a good second or third choice on your depth chart.

Poor Sunderland.

The historic team that plays in red and white, and is the pride of a hard-luck mining town, has been eclipsed by another historic team that plays in red and white and is the pride of a hard-luck mining town, at least in the popular imagination: Sunderland might be the bigger club, but Wrexham is the bigger story.

The two clubs aren't in direct competition — they last played each other in 1980. But both of their brands, as the kids say, are vying for your attention. On one end of the streaming services, you have Sunderland: Big, angry, dysfunctional. On the other, you have Wrexham: Small, earnest, lovable. Which one do you want to spend the evening watching?

The owner of Sunderland is Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, a 27-year-old Swiss-born billionaire who inherited his wealth and who has such intensely negative charisma that he makes celebrating a goal feel like a chore. (Actually, he might not be the majority owner, just the owner — it's complicated, and frankly, it's not very interesting.)

The owners of Wrexham are Hollywood's Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, two empathetic, emotionally intelligent alpha males who seem to have made it to the top by working hard and being kind. Their evolving bromance is one of the many subplots that drive Welcome to Wrexham.

Is it unfair to compare the two docuseries? Maybe. After all, you can always watch both. But one can't help but think that the team behind Sunderland 'Til I Die looked at how Welcome to Wrexham is changing the soccer docuseries, and decided it was time to pack it in.

Sunderland 'Til I Die, Season 3 | Official Trailer

The third season of Season Sunderland 'Til I Die is just three episodes long – compare that to eight episodes for season one, and six for season two – and it feels less like a studied conclusion to a series that first aired in 2018 than a quick wrap-up and goodbye.

It follows Sunderland's fight for promotion to the EFL Championship after an uncomfortably long four-year stay in League One, the third tier of English football. Spoiler alert: Sunderland earn promotion. The team's triumph, which culminates in a win at Wembley over the almost comically evil Wycombe Wanderers, a physical team that likes a hard challenge, makes for good TV. Who doesn't love it when the underdogs triumph?

But it's hard for the neutral fan to feel much love for Sunderland. The magic of Welcome to Wrexham is found in the show's ability to make you care about the players, the team, and the town. It turns out that McElhenney and Reynolds know how to tell a story.

The fault of Sunderland 'Til I Die is that its appeal is limited to fans of Sunderland, or maybe English football. In other words, season three is for those who watched seasons one and two, and now want closure.

There will be no season four: This is it for Sunderland 'Til I Die.

As for Welcome to Wrexham, the new season starts streaming on April 18.