The COVID pandemic is still ongoing, but when people took it seriously in 2020, it caused some hyperbolic but understandable reactions. One of those reactions include the possibility that viewers lose out on parts of contemporary culture. Specifically, that they may never be able to play or see association football again. Matthew Bate and Case Jernigan, then, decides to create A Game of Three Halves. It’s a miniseries with short animation episodes exploring football culture and recent history. So no, the one reference to Maradona is not how he vanquished British colonialism. Episode names include Max Rushden’s Where The F%*k is Hamish. This specific episode is about having to wrangle 22 people or less in the same place to play a weekend game. I write 22 because that’s how many people are in the pitch at the same time, and I write ‘less’ because people flake.
These fun episodes make connections between football culture and other things within contemporary global culture, especially on the changes that the internet brings in to football. Aesthetically, the animation has a lot of texture. It mostly uses collage like style, where the textures include felt, fonts, markers, soft focus. Hamish makes for a good opening episode to show how fun contemporary football is. But things get serious in Episode 2, bearing the title Sara. Here, the narrator and writer uses a titular nickname to talk about the difficulties of being a football fan in Iran. This is especially true if these football fans are women. Both the animation and her narration discuss the pushback she gets from other women who don’t see the connection between feminism and sports. This is a connection obvious to the Western viewers watching this.
I like references here to other works about football. Sara is reminiscent of Offside. And Joel Golby’s All Hail the Wild Boars covers the titular Thai boy’s team who find themselves inside a cave during the summer of 2018. The series is good except for a few things. First, I don’t remember anything about the episode about goalies and I just watched it hours ago. And Sara is the only female writer of colour in the whole series while the rest are white British men. This is odd since this series is, after all, about the favourite game of four of six continents. Wild Boars also feel like it’s from a perspective of privilege. But it’s forgivable for its cheeky tendencies. Besides, I won’t spoil what the last episode is about but it’s one of those moments that broke the internet.
A Game of Three Halves comes soon on OVID.