The documentary Senna is widely regarded as one of the best sports documentaries ever. Completely made with archival footage, Senna covered the life and career of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Ayrton Senna. Senna’s life story is certainly one that can make for a great scripted series, and Netflix is reportedly going to do just that.
According to Variety, Netflix is set to produce an eight-episode scripted miniseries about the Brazilian racer. Set to premiere sometime in 2022, the show will cover Senna’s life, from his move to England in order to further his racing career to his tragic death in a racing crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The miniseries will profile Senna’s “personality and family relationships,” as it goes through his racing career.
While there are high hopes that this will be great, eight episodes doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to really cover Senna’s entire racing career. Senna moved to England in 1981 and made his F1 debut in 1984, so we’re talking a 13 year span. If you’ve seen the documentary, you know that it left a bunch out and still had a lot in the movie from Senna’s career. You could even make an eight-episode miniseries about Senna’s final weekend at Imola alone, much less one on his entire career, so there will probably be some difficult choices about what gets included in the final product.
Just like with the documentary, the miniseries has the blessing of Senna’s family and they will participate in the development of the show. That can be good or bad, depending on how you look at the situation. For one thing, Senna’s family participating brings a sense of reality to the show. They will be opening up areas for filming, like Senna’s actual childhood home, and will also be a source for producers to maintain accuracy that should improve the quality of the miniseries.
On the other hand, Senna is certainly going to be portrayed in a positive light if his family is on board. That doesn’t mean it’ll be an inaccurate portrayal; Senna didn’t really have any skeletons in his closet and he’s been a hero to millions of people around the world, both in life and death. But one note of criticism from some about the documentary was the seemingly unfair portrayal of rival Alain Prost in comparison to Senna.
Throughout the film, Prost was portrayed as the evil Frenchman who relied on politics as the way to defeat Senna. Granted, the movie wasn’t called Prost, but Prost’s talent was somewhat understated and it wasn’t until the very end that the documentary revealed Prost and Senna made up and became friends just before Senna’s death. While the documentary didn’t really hide anything about Senna and his life, it did hide certain things about those around him and put Senna in a better light in comparison.
It’s possible the miniseries could go about Senna’s story in a similar fashion, and a scripted drama provides more creative license than a documentary does. But just like the documentary, that shouldn’t take away from a miniseries that should have racing fans and non-racing fans interested.