WCB is a Web TV series about two 26-year-old best friends: Nate Houghteling, a Harvard alum, and Kai Hasson, from Yale. The hook? They quit their office jobs, train for three months as boxers and then fight each other. How will the bout affect their friendship? And who wins—Harvard or Yale? The concluding fight night streams live at whitecollarbrawler.com beginning at 7 p.m. PST on the evening of Friday, December 17; then it’ll be posted on the Web sometime the week of Monday, December 20. To get up to speed, don’t bother to watch every one of the 22 episodes. Instead, just read our handy guide—and stick around for our wrap-up and analysis on Monday.
Ep. 1: About to Get Real
Character intros and the set-up of a narrative arc that culminates with the friend-versus-friend bout. Kai is tall, skinny and self-deprecating. Nate is burly, thick and cocky. WATCH.
Ep. 2: The President’s Test
Setting the beginning fitness bench marks. Nate is in better shape than Kai. Reluctant to fight his best friend? That’s Kai. Meanwhile, Nate is excited to beat the crap out of a close friend. Nate: “If there was a favourite, it would be me.” WATCH.
Ep. 3: Nate’s Hunger
On Yom Kippur, Nate’s not able to train—he’s supposed to fast. Some stupid web video. Bit of backstory about how successful Nate and Kai are at attracting views on YouTube. Meet Nate’s parents. Rocky-type training montages. SKIP.
Ep. 4: Kai’s Flaw
It’s his jab. SKIP.
Ep. 5: Punched in the Face
Three weeks into training, first sparring. Nate tenses up and has a hard time during the sparring. Nate: “It’s crazy in there. I breathe so hard. Everything shuts down.” Kai does well in the sparring. Trainer Angelo clearly is impressed. “He ate a lot of leather. But he kept coming … He’s bringing it on.” Angelo stops Nate’s sparring because he’s hyperventilating. By the end Nate admits he got a little shook in there. Understands he’s got some ways to go. Kai: “The big question coming in, today, was, who can take a punch.” Kai ends it: I think I have a chance. WATCH.
Ep. 6: Nate Fights Back
On the beach training, Nate comes back in the sparring, Kai is flat. SKIP.
Ep. 7: The Boxers Dance
Trainer Leandra takes the boys belly dancing to take them out of their comfort zone and increase core strength. Belly dancers are hot. Episode of Chronicle Live, a Bay Area-TV show with Kai and Nate on it. WATCH.
Ep. 8: Angelo’s Lesson
They spar with Angelo. Workouts on the beach. Visiting the Giants dugout after the Don’t Stop Believing web video gets 500,000 hits. SKIP.
Ep. 9: Making of a Champion
Morning workout. Kai is snapping off the jabs. Meeting trainer Nonito Donaire Sr. who has trained pro fighters. We meet Kai’s mom. The boys carry trainer Leandra up San Fran’s Lyon Steps. The debut of Kai’s yellow shirt, which I don’t really like. SKIP
Ep. 10: Weekend Warriors
The episode amounts to a multi-minute commercial for the boxing gym that amounts to various professionals saying “Boxing is great.” Best thing about this episode is the Zappo’s commercial at the end of it. SKIP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SKIP.
Ep. 11: First Blood Spilled
Nate starts with a run while wearing boxing headgear, then reveals he lives at home with his parents. WCB has been sponsored by some clothing company. Cheesy joke about the clothing company. We meet Nate’s girlfriend. She is attractive. Sparring reveals that Nate is farther along in his training than Kai. WATCH.
Ep. 12: Professional Help
Road trip to hang out with Robert the Ghost Guerrero, with whom the boys discuss tactics while Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream plays in the background. SKIP.
Ep. 13: Food for Thought
Kai still only weighs 160 pounds, so Leona takes him to the supermarket to give him such weight-gaining tips as “eat kale.” And “eat kefir.” More training at the beach. Cool shot of a pulled tire. Nate’s real name is “Nathanial,” which I may be mis-spelling. Isn’t there an “e” in there somewhere? Nathanial goes to the doctor to see about these post-sparring headaches and the doc sends him for a CT scan. WATCH.
Ep. 14: The Tech Beat-up
Apple’s Zach Morris fights some dude from Google in a filler episode completely tangential to Nathanial and Kai’s journey toward pugnacity. SO SO SO SKIP.
Ep. 15: The Tech Beat-up Recap
Ep. 16: Hand of Fate
Nate’s CT scan. The boy’s travel to L.A. Lots of shots on escalators. Some boxing wisdom from a 310 sage. Fortune telling on Venice Beach goes on for way too long. Then the doc says Nate’s head is OK. SKIP.
Ep. 17: A Day with a Champ
Nate trains with a female boxer, Ana Julaton, and learns to improve his fighting form. SKIP.
Ep. 18: Changing Winds
“Fighing is like a one-night stand. You’re trading body fluids with somebody. It’s so intimate,” says Sam Sheridan, author of A Fighter’s Heart, during Kai’s visit with him. I read A Fighter’s Heart. Great book. The tone turns serious and Kai gets a haircut. Nate is jealous of the attention trainer Angelo pays to Kai and calls Kai a loser. The boys establish cornermen: Kai gets Angelo and Nate gets the female boxer whose name I can’t remember right now. Ana Julaton. That’s it. Anyway: WATCH
Ep. 19: Head Spins
Sparring breaks the Go Pro cam. The rift spreads between Angelo and Nate. An MD discusses Nate’s brain and a disturbing experiment that saw squirrel monkeys intentionally concussed. Except risk of death in boxing is less than in college football, MD says. WATCH.
Ep. 20: Childhood Enemies
Whoa, when did two Angelos show up? The Angelo we’ve seen throughout is Angelo Marino, now Kai’s trainer, who shall henceforth be known as “Marino.” Marino admits serious beef with Nate. The other Angelo, Angelo Reyes, is in Nate’s corner. Kai looks good in training and has a thoughtful interview during which he says the friendship can survive this fight. Nate confesses that if he doesn’t win, he may cry. WATCH.
Ep. 21: Upping the Ante
A recap of previous episodes plus the wisdom of BJ Penn. If you’re only going to watch one episode, watch this one. Otherwise: SKIP.
Ep. 22: The Final Montage
A Rocky-style montage over a fairly hype Ashkon song. Tangential, but funny for people who have been with the series from the start. A reluctant SKIP.
In summary: Watch episodes 1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 13, and 18 through 20, and you’re prepared for the live stream on Friday night. Go Kai.