‘Welcome to Wrexham’: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney Want to Tell the Truth of Their Football Club as ‘Nakedly’ as Possible

There aren’t any shows on television like FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham.” Part of that has to do with the series’ premise, which follows two Hollywood stars embarking on a financial journey only a handful of people could ever even phathom: owning a football club. But there’s another reason why Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds’ series stands out in a crowded docuseries space. Despite being the product of its famous owners, “Welcome to Wrexham” is unafraid to show the truth, “warts and all.”

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Reynolds told TheWrap. “In order to document how that [relationship] exists and coexists between the town, the club and us, you have to hit that as nakedly and as honestly as possible.”

This often means showing both Reynolds and McElhenney is less-than-flattering situations. For example, in Season 1 when Wrexham signed the top scorer of League Two Paul Mullin, the series immediately pivoted to interview lesser paid players about their excitement and frustrations over the hire. Any time Reynolds and McElhenney are faced with a new and expensive problem — an event that happens often — the camera doesn’t shy away from their frustrated reactions and bubbling panic.

“We realize that audiences are savvy, and they will be able to see through the veneer of something that is false,” McElhenney told TheWrap. As the creator, executive producer and star of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” McElhenney noted that he’s used to watching himself in editing rooms and “choosing comedy over vanity or storytelling over vanity.”

“This was a little bit more difficult because, now, I’m not playing a character. I’m actually myself,” McElhenney said. “There were a couple of times where I would look at something, some footage that was shot. I was not necessarily ashamed, but it was not my proudest moment where I seemed petulant or just not the way that I want to present myself to the world. I knew that would have to go in because it’s compelling.”

Reynolds added, “Just to piggyback on that, talent can create something incredible. You can even make something incredible through ego. But vanity will fucking destroy you every time, particularly when crafting a movie, show or anything that is trying to connect with people. You cannot connect with people through the prism of vanity. You have to include those moments that are maybe not ever-so-flattering or lovely.”

Welcome to Wrexham
Paul Mullin in “Welcome to Wrexham” (Photo Credit: FX)

For the past two seasons, “Welcome to Wrexham” has largely revolved around a singular goal: promoting Wrexham A.F.C. to League One. In the very last minutes of Season 2, which documents a match against Boreham Wood, the team does precisely that. Though that success shifts the focus of “Welcome to Wrexham” Season 3, the pair’s ultimate goals for Wrexham A.F.C. remain the same: creating a sustainable model for this football club that can continue for generations to come.

“The way that we look at it is that we are putting in both an economic and an emotional investment into the success of the town and the club. Hopefully, that can span decades,” McElhenney said. “Our immediate goal was to get out of the National League and to get promoted. But as anybody who watched the show knows, there are many, many leagues to go. Eventually, we’d like to get to the Premier League.”

“This sport is an endless series of moving the goalposts,” Reynolds joked. But more than anything else, this investment has always been about the town for the duo.

“Rob and I don’t profess to be experts in financial investments, and anyone who knows anything about football will say that’s probably not the place you want to make a financial investment,” Reynolds said. “But what we do know about and what we love and care about is emotional investment. When you can create an emotional investment, in not just this club but this town, it’s some of the most rewarding work that I’ve ever been a part of in my entire life. In a weird way, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

The first two episodes of “Welcome to Wrexham” Season 3 premiere on FX Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. New episodes air weekly and will be available to stream on Hulu.

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