In 1956 the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman published his book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. It became one of the most influential books in the field of sociology.

One of the key concepts that Goffman developed was what he described as “dramaturgy” - a metaphor for how life and all social interaction can be viewed as theatrical performance. Everybody attempts to control how they’re perceived by others through everyday social performances.

On the front stage, we put on our metaphorical costumes and make-up in order to conform to social rules and hierarchies, in contrast to back stage, where Goffman describes, “the performer can relax; he can drop his front, forgo speaking in his lines, and step out of character."


We all “perform” to a greater or lesser extent every day, we’re presenting the version of ourselves that we want to. If you wanted to, you can even try to present yourself as a pseudo-intellectual by referring to seminal sociological texts in an article about a football documentary.

So when the takeover of Wrexham AFC by Hollywood’s Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney was announced, along with the fact that they were going to be producing a documentary series about their attempts to get the club promoted, it creates an instant tension for the identity of the people of Wrexham and supporters of the team.

In day to day life we can present ourselves and tell our own “story” to others we come into contact with, but now we had two people from thousands of miles away, who didn’t know the difference between Rhos and Rhuabon, who were going to tell that story of who we were on our behalf to an audience of millions.

After nearly two years, we can finally stop holding our breath this week as the first episodes of “Welcome to Wrexham” are broadcast.

Since the club was bought, the two co-chairmen haven’t put a foot wrong - investing £2 million of their own money and attracting much more from new sponsors, and with Rob even committing to learning Welsh. 

Regardless of the money, the stakes for them are huge on a personal level. Discussing how shady owners of football clubs can usually retire to the shadows when things go wrong, McElhenney is frank in his discussions with Reynolds. “If this goes south we can’t pretend this didn’t happen,” he says. “No, people know where to find us,” comes the reply. The two are hostage to their decision to buy the club, and they have to make it work.

American TV is almost a parody of itself, particularly TV that’s presented as factual. Think of Gordon Ramsey’s US programmes and how the insanely heightened tension is presented - a clear fabrication of the editing room.

READ MORE: 'Beating heart of this club' - Rob McElhenney on Wrexham's 10,000-strong crowd

Could this corner of Wales, which struggles to even be heard in Wales, really rely on two actors from the other side of the planet to give them a voice that’s authentic? To show them in their best light? Via the medium of a TV show that’s made for a North American audience?

Thankfully, miraculously, gloriously, resoundingly - YES. 

Whenever your area appears on Wales Today, or even if your village is on the weather map at the end, it’s impossible not to feel a tiny frisson of excitement. It’s a sort of recognition of the self, proof that you exist.

So when your area and the people from there are broadcast to millions across the world, there’s a little bit more than a tiny frisson of excitement. There’s also the fear that you’re presented fairly.

Wrexham AFC co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds at The Racecourse last week. How does their new documentary, 'Welcome to Wrexham' present this part of Wales? (Image: Wrexham AFC)."The two co-chairmen haven't put a foot wrong" (Picture: Gemma Thomas Photography).

There’ll be people from Davenport, Iowa, or Grand Rapids, Michigan, or McElhenney’s own Philadelphia who have never heard of Wales, let alone Wrexham, so it’s important that what they see is accurate. 

First impressions count for a lot, don’t they?

And in terms of first impressions the early star of the documentary has to be Wayne Jones, landlord of The Turf pub which is practically built into the Racecourse stadium.

With his strong Wrexham accent (occasionally subtitled for the benefit of those from Colorado rather than Coedpoeth), Jones embodies the feelings of all Wrexham fans - having been raised supporting the team and now with a livelihood that’s linked to the club’s fortunes.

Wrexham AFC co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds at The Racecourse last week. How does their new documentary, 'Welcome to Wrexham' present this part of Wales? (Image: Wrexham AFC).Wrexham AFC co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at The Racecourse this year (Image: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire).

The documentary crew filmed dozens of people from Wrexham throughout the course of the last year, and I hope we get to see more locals just presented in a similar way, as they have been in these first two episodes. 

Somehow, the Welsh language is introduced in a way that doesn’t belittle it, doesn’t mock it and just gives it fair play. How is it that US television is leading the way for the UK to follow in this regard?


The whole experience is completely refreshing, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

My only concern is that, as a Wrexham fan, I know how the season goes, and I don’t know if I can survive the ups and downs again with the added emotional wrench of cinematic music laid over it.