What do you get when you cross the rising global popularity of South Korean media and reality shows? Netflix’s Physical 100. The show’s premise is rooted in identifying the perfect physique of men and women with various sporting and athletic backgrounds. The competitors range from bodybuilders to national fencers and even fitness influencers, who all compete in various challenges. 

The show consists of five main events: a one-on-one brawl, two team events involving the movement of sand and a ship, a delegate challenge, and the finale. The nature of many of the challenges favoured a particular body type, especially early in the competition. Heavyset, large, and strong. It was evident that the contestants drew the same conclusions as they opted for the bigger and male competitors when choosing teammates and chose to face-off the teams or individuals they felt lacked in comparison. Irrespectively, the leaner competitors held their own even with the odds stacked against them. Ultimately, the show is one of survival.One cannot criticise the competitors for making the decisions to win. Even when it is seemingly unfair. As the challenges progressed, the focus became less strength orientated and more endurance orientated. This is where many of the ‘favourites to win’ started to drop out of the competition. The finale, which was a series of challenges mixing different physical elements, saw most body types in the medium sphere. It is interesting to note that the finalists were not the competitors with the most defined muscles, proving that aesthetic and functionality are not one in the same.

It is questionable whether one can consider Physical 100’s assessment of the crème de la crème human physique as containing all the relevant information. The competitors were fierce and those who moved on deserved to. However, by reviewing the finale alone it is evident that the elimination rule altered the odds for everyone. The finale had four rounds: a body tug of war, tile flipping, shuttle running and rope pulling. Each of these events would have played to each of the finalists’ strengths and weaknesses differently. So, if measured overall, the current winner may be someone else. This goes for the whole competition. Had the assessment been on scores tallied from the first event till the last, the results may have differed drastically.

The show names itself a study in ‘What is the perfect physique?’ but it is more than that. The show has entertainment value, sportsmanship and respect amongst the competitors. The demonstration of each individual’s willpower is what truly makes it worthwhile. Not only is it a must watch series but it also allows viewers to learn from it.

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