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What to watch this weekend: TV’s juiciest, glitziest sports show

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Season 6 of “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” is now on Netflix, and in many ways it remains as fun and juicy as ever — full of mean-spirited immaturity, glamorous lifestyles and seductive European playfulness. In the hands of the show, a race for 10th place as compelling and high-stakes as the one for first place – partly because that’s how the sport can work, but also because Max Verstappen, the driver who came first in 19 of 22 races, did not I will not participate in the show this season.

The enormous success of “Drive to Survive” spawned, and continues to spawn, a whole league of imitators. “Tour de France: Unchained” and “Make or Break,” about surfing, come closest to “Drive” in capturing the athletic intensity, overall charisma and dazzling locations. The raw brutality of cycling and the optimistic individuality of surfing are fascinating in their own right, but the glitz factor, a mainstay of the ‘Drive,’ is largely absent.

“Break Point”, about tennis, is very exciting but more diffuse; because it includes both male and female professionals and due to the nature of tennis tournaments, its athletes are not all competing against each other. “Full Swing,” about golf, is an unkind spectacle of cowardice and greed. “Six Nations: Full Contact,” about rugby, has a lot of disjointed, moment-to-moment charm, but doesn’t stick together overall. The drivers in “NASCAR: Full Speed” all blend together.

Series that follow a sport for an entire season are the most obvious descendants of “Drive.” But other access shows like “Quarterback,” “Under Pressure: The US Women’s World Cup Team,” “Angel City” and “Race: Bubba Wallace” are also adjacent. All claim to offer an inside perspective, but are too superficial and uncritical to have any real purchase — and they don’t make up for that superficiality with sheer volume of plot the way “Drive” does.

“Drive” won’t reign forever, especially because it continues to veer toward reality shows. And this isn’t a nutritious reality show; Bravo. An important episode this season centers on Lewis Hamilton’s re-signing with Mercedes, and it plays out as a story of commitment and integrity for all parties. He would Never racing for Ferrari, we are told. But the first few seasons of “Drive” motivated me enough to now follow the comings and goings of the sport, and I know that Hamilton has indeed signed with Ferrari for the 2025 season, as fans of “Vanderpump Rules” knew the ins and outs of Scandoval eons before he made his way into the series.

“Drive” already has to deal with the fact that, like all sports shows, it’s downright wasted, so additional devices only add more drag. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of easy fun in the series, at least a few more seasons of gas in its tank.

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