Australian Ninja Warrior: This is the reason we're all so obsessed.

As you watch the contestants take to the course on Australian Ninja Warrior, there’s something almost gladiatorial about it.

Their bodies are strong and lean, with every muscle serving an invaluable physical purpose.

The look in their eyes is one of profound focus.

The difference between these modern day ‘warriors’ and ancient gladiators is twofold; firstly, this is not a game of combat. There will be no violence, and their opponent will not unexpectedly charge towards them. This is a game of mental stamina coupled with skill, executed with strength. There is no enemy, except the mind that second guesses itself.

LISTEN: Speaking of television… The Binge discusses The Handmaid’s Tale. Post continues below. 

Secondly, this is not a course reserved for men. Today, women can be gladiators too. Not only can they enter the stadium, they’re in with an equal chance of coming out the champion.

Australian Ninja Warrior premiered this week, to an audience of more than two million people. To put that into context, Ninja Warrior attracted 350,000 more viewers than The Voice finale that aired at the same time the week before. David Knox wrote for his blog TV Tonight, that this is the biggest series launch in five years, with the exception of sporting games or mini-series’.

Simply, it is smashing the competition.

The most overwhelming reason for its success is its 7:30 time slot, which caters to families who often struggle to find something they can all sit down and watch together. Whether you’re five or 55, Ninja Warrior speaks to you equally.

The formula is simple. An everyday Australian (albeit incredibly well trained) attempts an obstacle course they’ve never seen before.

Whenever you’re thinking “I can’t do that, that is too hard…” Get your inspiration from Sam. #NinjaWarriorAU

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As is the case with reality television, Ninja Warrior relies on compelling individuals sharing their backstories prior to competing. We become invested, rooting for some, and rolling our eyes at others. “He’ll do it easy,” we say about one competitor, while others can’t possibly be strong enough. The genius lies in the fact we’re almost always wrong.


The suspense is unequivocal. We’re glued to our screens, analysing their every step. It’s why formats like Masterchef continue to work – you never know quite what’s going to happen.

It’s interesting, and I’d argue not entirely coincidental, that the same year Ninja Warrior has broken television records, The Biggest Loser was such an enormous failure it was moved from its evening slot.

TONIGHT 7.30pm: Our toughest obstacles yet are taking out our Ninjas! ???????????????? #NinjaWarriorAU

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Ninja Warrior might signify a shift from an absurd focus on what our bodies look like to what they can actually do.

We’re not interested anymore in watching people cry when they look in the mirror and fearfully stand on a set of scales. That doesn’t even almost inspire a healthy relationship with our bodies.

Instead, we want to watch the human body defy limits. Tall, short, broad, slender, man, woman, black, white, nerd, musician, Olympian – none of it matters. All that matters is that you get to the end of the course, in the shortest amount of time possible. If you fall. That’s it. You’re out.

Their muscles are not for Instagram, and that is awfully refreshing.

We’re watching Australian Ninja Warrior for the same reason we follow the Olympics. It’s inspiring. It’s innocent. It’s suspenseful. It’s competitive. It’s the human body doing things we didn’t know it could.

It’s a formula as old as time, and it’s working as well as ever.

You can listen to the full episode of The Binge, here.