Take a guess as to which Netflix series was Mississippi’s favorite in 2016.
Don’t think too hard. Yes, Netflix has had an extremely successful run with original content.
It may come as no surprise but the sports documentary series “Last Chance U” was Mississippi’s favorite. Mississippi was the only state where #LCU stood above the rest.
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The study also revealed that many of us like to watch shows about our own regions — why get out and experience life when we can lay in bed and watch videos about it on our laptops, right? In addition to LCU, which centered around East Mississippi Community College’s football program during the 2015 season, “Bloodline” (Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina), “House of Cards” (Washington D.C.), “The Get Down” (New York), “Hemlock Grove” (West Virginia) and “The Ranch” (Wyoming) were also favorites of their respective areas.
Here’s how the numbers were compiled: “Each state’s favorite show was identified by compiling a list of all the original Netflix content, and then analyzing state data from Google Trends in 2016. For the purposes of this map, we excluded movies, children’s shows, continuations (series aired previously on another network), and limited, one-time specials so we could isolate popular original content in each state.”
“Last Chance U” was of particular interest to South Mississippians over the last 12 months. For starters, several locals like former Biloxi kicker Grayson Pontius had a few cameos.
The Sun Herald talked with the former Indian in July, prior to the six-episode Season 1 dropping online.
“I can’t tell you how many times (coach Buddy Stephens) kicked (the cameras) out of meetings or the huddle,” Pontius said. “I wouldn’t say they were a nuisance but they were always there.”
Arguably the biggest moment of the season was the Lion’s bench-clearing brawl with Mississippi Delta after the the Lions had pushed their halftime lead to 48-0. That moment ended up booting EMCC from the post-season and carried over into this season. Several videos surfaced immediately after the fight, but Netflix was in the middle of all the commotion.
“They got footage that no one else has ever seen,” Pontius said of the fight. “They showed us some of their (high definition) footage. That is the real, raw footage. ... The videos on YouTube don’t do anything justice.”
The series was so popular that Netflix picked it up for a second season. While Season 1 ended in disappointment for EMCC, with the Lions being disqualified for the playoffs, Season 2 will have a very different ending — and in Perkinston. While the series had an army of cameramen on hand for the Mississippi Bowl, don’t expect to see footage from EMCC’s 45-7 win at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The Bulldogs were one of multiple schools that declined to be filmed when the crew reached out during the offseason.
“We look forward to an exciting game against EMCC; however, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has opted out of the filming of EMCC’s reality show,” MGCCC President Mary Graham said in a statement to the Sun Herald at the time. “What is being portrayed in the series is not representative of what is happening at Gulf Coast. Our focus is building champions both on the field and in the classroom. Fostering character, instilling integrity, and ensuring overall respect for players and coaches is the Gulf Coast way. That is why we say we are #intheblue.”
The film crew apparently used that weekend to film out-of-state families of Lions players.
While the series made Stephens look bad at times (including an altercation with an official and strong language in the locker room), LCU also created several breakout stars. Marcel Andry, Ronald Ollie, now at Nicholls State, Wyatt Roberts (Mississippi State) and John Franklin III (Auburn) were among the players who received the bulk of camera time. The unquestioned star of the series, however, was EMCC counselor Brittany Wagner, who is using her new-found notoriety to travel for personal appearances, private events, motivational speaking, etc.
Stephens and Wagner are obviously back for Season 2, but many of the players have changed. Who will stand out this season? One obvious guess is former Florida State quarterback Deandre Johnson, who entered the Mississippi Bowl without a DI offer but eventually signed with Lane Kiffin at FAU.
Netflix has not announced the release date for Season 2.