David and Victoria Beckham have captured global attention for the better part of the last 25 years. From the time they wed in 1999, they’ve blended the worlds of sports and pop culture to create a worldwide brand thanks to David’s superstar status on and off the pitch and Victoria’s pop star-turned-fashion designer trajectory.
The Beckhams became the latest high-profile couple to get the Netflix ‘docuseries’ treatment last month with the release of Beckham. The four-part series directed by Fisher Stevens chronicles David’s rise from working-class roots to worldwide soccer stardom – but it’s not just football fans who are tuning in. The documentary also sheds light on the Beckhams family dynamic and the toll David’s career took on his marriage.
On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Daily Mail columnist Maureen Callahan to discuss the ‘documentary’ and what it actually reveals about the famous pair.
Bend It Like Beckham
Megyn admitted that she is not much a European football fan, but she found herself sucked into the nearly five-hour long series. While she, like many, found David’s rags to riches story surprisingly compelling, she also felt somewhat hoodwinked after considering the larger context of what was portrayed. “I liked Beckham watching it,” she said. “Of course, that was the design. The goal was to get me to like him.”
In early October, Callahan wrote a piece for Daily Mail in which she argued the so-called ‘docuseries’ was no different than the puff piece treatment afforded to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year. “Alas, as we’ve seen with the recent Harry & Meghan Netflix series, the 10-part Michael Jordan hagiography The Last Dance, Jennifer Lopez’s Halftime, and the four-part Apple TV special The Super Models, the documentary, as we once knew it, is dead,” she wrote.
She argued that today’s ‘documentaries’ are instead just “vanity projects” in which the subjects have complete control. “Scandals are sanded down or unmentioned altogether, conflict minimized, personal flaws and failings airbrushed away,” Callahan wrote. “Legacy is the play, truth fungible, history rewritten.”
Megyn agreed. “It should be called Beckham: My Story – first person, so it’s very disclosed,” she said. “It’s not a documentary where the filmmaker really does go wherever he or she wants to go and the subject agrees that’s how this is going to go down.”
Callahan pointed out that there was no shortage of scandals or bad press the filmmakers could have incorporated into the series, but nearly all were avoided. For example, David’s long-rumored affairs were glossed over. While he didn’t explicitly deny them as he has in the past, he did allude to them. “There was some horrible stories that were difficult to deal with,” David said in the doc. “It was the hardest period for us because it felt like the world was against us. And here’s the thing, we were against each other if I’m being completely honest.”
Both Megyn and Callahan agreed that Victoria came across as a loving and supportive wife and mother throughout the series, though they believe it is clear the couple’s relationship is not what it once was. “One of the sadnesses was I don’t feel like these two have anything close to the love affair that they had in the beginning,” Megyn noted. “They have just as many challenges as any average Joe has experienced and then 10-times more thanks to the fame and the money.”
At the end of the day, Megyn found Victoria “warmer” than she expected and David “sadder” and maybe a little angrier than she expected. “He really did get screwed over by a couple of those football managers… [and] the guy who coached that World Cup team he was on seemed like an absolute prick,” she noted. “I think he felt the betrayal of becoming the scourge of the nation overnight.”
In her view, that was one of the most candid elements of the series. “I think it’s caused wounds that he’s still not over, so it was kind of interesting to see him wrestle with that on camera,” she concluded. “You kind of got to see even somebody like Beckham, who hasn’t been a whiner about it, gets affected. He’s only human.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Callahan by tuning in to episode 660 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.