Hulu’s “Mike” packs a disappointing punch

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Swinging fist first into the Hulu original series “Mike” that came out Aug. 25, I was hopeful and excited to learn the story behind “the baddest man on the planet.” The trailer delivered a prideful yet dark telling of Mike Tyson’s life, but the final product ended up disappointing me and even Mike himself. 

The show opens with an ear-ripping first scene of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield fighting it out in the ring: a beautiful shot of Tyson’s willpower fills the screen. Trevante Rhodes (Mike Tyson) delivers a beautiful mastery of “Kid Dynamite” with a blood-curdling demonstration of Tyson, but sadly, his acting cannot make up for the lack of good writing.

The first episode, “Thief,” explores Tyson’s troublesome life through poverty, bullying and jail-time. The show attempts to tell his story, but unfortunately fast forwards through his life and upbringing. The writers depict Tyson as a scared kid in the heart of Brooklyn and showcases how bullying would end his education early before he resorted to petty crime. The writers did an amazing job at grabbing the hearts of parents as they show Tyson sleeping on the abandoned floor, helpless while his mother slowly loses hope in him. The show did a phenomenal job at portraying his rough childhood, but that’s the only thing it did right.

The first time this series demonstrates the emotional and caring side of Tyson is when the audience is introduced to Cus D’Amato (Harvey Keitel). This man helped Mike win a number of championships, but none of that is demonstrated in detail as D’Amato dies in the second episode. Rushed production and sloppy writing made for a very uneventful first episode. 

By the second episode, “Monster,” my mood had changed; I was no longer excited to experience the dark truth of Tyson’s life, but rather bored and using my phone instead of watching. The show delivered some tear-worthy moments, but even the deaths were done poorly. The show leaves too much up to interpretation and moves past all the sorrow. I wish the writers would have taken more time telling Tyson’s story and explained his background in more detail. Each scene went from Tyson on stage telling his story to showing moments and reenactments of his life. This portrayal could have been done better with longer episodes, as each episode is only 30 minutes long, which is not enough time to tell Tyson’s controversial and melancholy story.

While the series was displeasing to me, it also upset Tyson himself.  Tyson took no part in making the series, which left some spotty and crucial details missing. On Instagram, he posted a photo explaining how Hulu “stole [his] life” and how he doesn’t “support their story about [his] life.” He compared Hulu to a “slave maser” because they “stole [his] story and didn’t pay [him.]” In reply, the executive producers of “Mike,” Steven Rogers and Karin Gist, stated they wanted an “unbiased story,” because the real intention was to question “how complicit society has been” in Tyson’s story. Despite the intentions of the producers, the storytelling was limited without Tyson’s perspective. 

Overall, I had higher expectations for “Mike,” and I hope the writers dive deeper into the controversies of Tyson’s life in the coming episodes. I expected better from the creators of “I, Tonya” (2017) as it delivered heart-breaking and comedic moments that made the viewer yearn. “Mike” has yet to prove itself to be on the same standard and reads as the atrocious mistake child the creator’s hope to forget.