Weird things happen in the TV world sometimes, such as parts of games or races not shown thanks to technical difficulties. But it’s more unusual to see that with a documentary, especially one as high-profile as a 30 for 30 installment. That happened with ESPN’s premiere of Qualified (on Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500) at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, with many on Twitter complaining about the film ending abruptly. Well, as per director Jenna Ricker, that was a glitch, and the final few minutes just weren’t aired:
Hey Twitter friends! There was a glitch in the 8pm broadcast tonight on espn and the ending was cut off. Please check out Qualified on re-broadcast or espn + to finish Janet’s journey! Thanks for tuning in! pic.twitter.com/Cnb0YbdTpY
— Jenna Ricker (@rickernyc) May 29, 2019
ESPN PR tweeted about reairings Wednesday as well:
Two more chances to watch @30for30 documentary “Qualified” on motorsports pioneer Janet Guthrie
TONIGHT (9:30 pm ET | ESPN2)
SATURDAY (3:30 pm ET | ABC)https://t.co/DMo80Uaoec
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) May 29, 2019
(It should be noted that the Saturday reairing on ABC is at the same time as the IndyCar Chevrolet Duel In Detroit on NBC. Now that’s some counterprogramming!)
The error that caused the early cutout is highly unfortunate on multiple levels. It’s rough for the viewers who were watching Qualified live, but it also hurts those who were DVRing it to watch later. However, ESPN did re-air the film afterwards immediately (as planned) at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, and that second airing included the full film. The Wednesday night ESPN2 airing and Saturday ABC airing are also options for those who want to see the ending.
As for watching this online, ESPN says the film is available in full on the ESPN app to anyone with an authenticated cable or satellite subscription (no ESPN+ subscription required) until June 19, when it will move to the 30 for 30 library only accessible to ESPN+ subscribers. However, in practice, it’s proven difficult to access through the app across multiple attempts on multiple platforms.
So, while it’s certainly worth trying to access Qualified online through ESPN’s platforms (one link to try is here), it may not work for everyone. Towards that end, the re-airs may be the best bet to watch the ending. Or, if you just want to read what happened in the final few minutes, we can do that for you. Spoilers follow, obviously.
***HERE BE SPOILERS***
Near the end of what was shown on TV, Guthrie talks about how she wasn’t getting the sponsorship she needed to continue, and there’s then a clip of a news report of her travelling around the country to teach safe driving seminars for an insurance company. After that, there’s a clip of Guthrie discussing her induction into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, and her talking about turn-of-the-century female drivers who preceded her. Ron Huegli, the curator of World of Speed, then puts Guthrie’s accomplishments into context, calling them “monumental.” A number of other voices, including Leo Mehl from Goodyear and Guthrie’s brother Stewart, then sum up her career, and Guthrie herself talks about going back to Indianapolis and how she wants to be remembered.
That’s obviously a much better ending than just cutting it off at the news report about her teaching safe driving classes, and it would seem to be well worth it for those who watched the film to seek out the final few minutes online (if they can make it work) or in one of the re-airs. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but it’s good that ESPN is re-airing this a couple of times and giving those who missed the ending the chance to see it.