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Cobra Kai Creators: ‘The Show Empathizes With Johnny Lawrence’

(CBS Local)– People of a certain age still remember where they were when they watched “The Karate Kid” for the first time.

Josh Heald, Hayden Schlossenberg, Jon Hurwitz certainly fall into that category. The three have been friends since high school and came together to create “Cobra Kai,” starring Ralph Macchio and Billy Zabka. The show tells the story of life for Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence over 30 years after their epic battle at the All Valley Karate Tournament. While the creators were excited to create this new world, they also didn’t want to tarnish the legacy of their favorite movies.

“We have been friends for over 20 years and bonded in high school and college over things like ‘The Karate Kid’,” said Heald in an interview with CBS Local. “We all ended up having separate screenwriting careers. I did the Hot Tub Time Machine movies and they did the Harold & Kumar series. We always kept coming back to Karate Kid in our discussions and love of film. Streaming has taken over this ability to tell this long, serialized story with any subject matter. It became more and more likely that something like this could hit.”

After seeing the success of shows like ‘Fuller House,’ Heald, Schlossberg, and Hurwitz were motivated to create “Cobra Kai.” Schlossberg wanted to make sure this was a show that fans of The Karate Kid movies could also enjoy with their kids.

“Another thing about the original Karate Kid that we connected to was that it was a teen 80s melodramatic love story,” said Sclossberg. “We see a ton of these shows for young types of audiences today that are different variations of the same thing in terms of love triangles and high school. We liked the idea of doing that and throwing the karate element into it.”

One of the things that fans will find most interesting about this show is the portrayal of Johnny Lawrence. While he was known as an enemy for most of the 1980s, Heald and Schlossenberg paint him in a much more sympathetic way and dive into a world with Mr. Miyagi.

“Everybody has somebody in their high school that they felt was a bully,” said Schlossberg. “When you get older, you look back and wonder what happened to that person and why were they that way. With Johnny, you understand where all that aggression came from. The show tries to empathize with him and it blows your whole world.”

“It’s always a balance of whether we are reaching for nostalgia to make ourselves feel good or whether that nostalgia is supporting the story we are telling,” said Heald. “A big part of the story for Ralph’s side of the story with Daniel is the absence of Mr. Miyagi. We needed to make the void of a Miyagi-less world feel impactful.”

Season two of “Kobra Cai” is now available on YouTube Premium.