Becoming follows a familiar format to explain how various very famous and successful people came to be, but it benefits from a wider-than-usual array of subjects.
It’s very easy to be dismissive of celebrity culture, even while recognizing the hard work and dedication – well, in some cases – that goes into success. The idea of coming from humble beginnings and achieving everything you set out to is absolutely on-brand for Disney, though, and that kind of lofty big-dreaming has always been the foundation on which the House of Mouse is built. (Plus greed and racism, obviously, but let’s not get into that.) It’s no surprise, then, to find the new ten-part docuseries Becoming among the Disney+ thumbnails, and equally unsurprising to see the tried-and-tested formula it adheres to.
Having said that, though, Becoming gets something right – the ten success stories it chooses to hone in on comprise a range of actors, athletes, musicians, and such that is broader than usual and features people who aren’t actively insufferable and have actually worked for their accomplishments. The names of LeBron James and Maverick Carter as executive producers are attention-grabbers, and the former particularly is a great example of the kind of story Becoming wants to tell. In refreshingly brief 25-minute episodes, the career journeys of such stars as Adam Devine, Nick Kroll, Ashley Tisdale, and Rob Gronkowski are charted from their humble beginnings all the way to the limelight, and with the breadth of talent involved, even the most skeptical among us will probably find at least one episode that they can get on-board with.
The strength of these individual stories helps Becoming to resist being a slave to its formula; even though each episode is structurally similar, they remain distinct enough, though the obvious downside of this is that if you have a particular aversion to one of the subjects you’re unlikely to get anything out of their episode – that would be true in any case, though, and obviously goes both ways. Fans of particular individuals will be well-served, and there’s a better than average chance than someone you’re unfamiliar with might catch your attention.
Being brief is the greatest strength of Becoming, even if it can occasionally prevent a deeper dive into the stories that you might hope for if you’re particularly into them. Not outstaying its welcome is a major benefit for any show, though, perhaps especially this one, and condensing the highs and lows helps to build a more immediate, engaging rhythm. The quintessential Disney values of chasing your dreams and overcoming all odds are present and correct here, but helping to bypass the media framing that keeps stars at arm’s-length from their fans helps to define them beyond their work; beyond what we’re usually allowed to see. Becoming is far from revelatory, but it just might convince you to be a bit better than you were yesterday.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.