Review/Emmy Preview: ‘100 Foot Wave’

Exploring the Trials and Tribulations of Big Wave Surfing

'100 Foot Wave' | Credit: Courtesy WarnerMedia

A small seagull fills the frame. It flies in slow motion across the screen. There’s a pale blue something behind it. You hear the sharp BLEEP of a walkie-talkie system. Then, without any remorse or warning, the camera zooms out. The seagull is still in the center of the frame, but people are now standing below it. And that pale blue something? It’s crystallizing, it’s growing larger, there’s a trail of white foam running down it, and Oh My God, it’s a wave and it’s coming right at you.

Nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary Series, HBO’s 100 Foot Wave is must-see television. It’s a six chapter docuseries that explores the trials and tribulations of famed big wave surfer Garrett McNamara and his journey to riding the biggest one of them all, Nazare.

The show travels backward and forward in time, chronicling McNamara’s journey as a pro surfer, the 1990 invention of tow-in surfing, and shuffles back and forth between a variety of extreme big wave destinations like Fiji, Morocco, Mexico, Norway, and Tahiti, before reaching the Holy Grail: Nazare.

If slow-motion shots of surfers bombing down cliffs of water (colloquially referred to as waves) doesn’t fill your cup, the show features an inside look into the mindset of extreme athletes and the camaraderie they share. It is, at its core, the documentation of one man’s obsession to ride the biggest wave of them all, and how his dogged pursuit almost tore apart not only his body, but his friendships, his marriage, and his mind.

This show is worth the watch.

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