‘Arnold’ (2023) Recap & Review: Avoids Real Muscle And Only Touches The Surface 

When the man himself says the words “Always Hungry,” talking about the film that gave him his huge Hollywood career, all I could think about after finishing the series were those exact words. The bodybuilder, actor, and politician Schwarzenegger, the Austrian immigrant who made it big in America after being raised in a not-so-healthy environment post-World War II as a child, has less emotion and more drive to sell.  In his own words, everything is about selling, and that’s potentially what he’s doing through the Netflix docuseries Arnold. Moreover, it seems like all the series really wants to show us is the successful “American Dream.”


From the beginning of the series, we hear Arnold giddily narrate his dream to move to America after being brought up in a violent home environment in a small town called Thal in Austria. His childhood was rather competitive, and because of this, he became like a robot (no wonder he fit the role so well), always grinding towards success. It’s interesting to see the charismatic man be so stoic when he talks about these emotional and tumultuous periods of his life because he’s learned so well to hide or repress his feelings, possibly in front of cameras or possibly for good. Arnold was always keen on making it big in America, and he found his opportunities in bodybuilding at a young age. In truth, it’s a remarkable story of how he motivated himself and became strong in mind and body to reach every goal he set for himself while remaining hungry for more. All of this came from his urge to prove himself to his father, who always compared him to his brother, who unfortunately died in a car accident quite young. Soon after, the man also lost his father, and in a clip from back then, we see no devastation or sadness in him.

Arnold’s story is success after success, and there’s a lot of hard work that got him there, but as he reiterates at the end of the series, it could not have been possible without the support of the people in his life. Arnold found comfort in a new family of friends rather than his biological one. We see his journey from Austria to Munich, London, and then straight to the US, where all the big players were. He made an unfamiliar country his home because in his head, he was determined to make it so. Arnold became a bodybuilding champ and never looked back. From multiple Mr. Universe titles to the Mr. Olympia title, Arnold did it all for ten years until there was nothing more to do and no more goals to achieve. He then decided to move on from goal number 1 to goal number 2, which was his acting career. As imagined, this part of the series, which is episode 2, is the most entertaining, even if it’s mostly numerical. In that sense, it throws at us the box office numbers of the actor’s biggest hits rather than showing us any real substance of what went through his mind in those many years. What he felt as he became a household name in his dream country


We see how Arnold beat the odds and became a superstar after a decade of work on his accent, his connections, and how he charmed his way into the world of Hollywood. It is arguably the biggest part of his life—the stardom—because it is the defining aspect of all his chosen careers. being the greatest bodybuilder to being the greatest action hero, the only obstacle in Arnold’s path was himself. Just kidding, Arnold’s way of doing things, as we understand it, is by competing with other people, so his great enemy in the industry was Rambo himself. We hear from a humble Stallone, who calls Arnold more successful and a bigger superstar as he smilingly talks about their disdain for each other in the action boom of the 80s. Repeatedly, we hear Arnold’s love for all things American as he became a citizen of the country. Arnold then married Maria Shriver, who belonged to the Kennedy family. They had four kids, and Arnold switched from action to comedy. We watch as Arnold becomes the poster child of cigars and Hummers. The big man with his big car, big watch, and big dreams. Arnold’s career dipped a little after Terminator 2, but it wasn’t Hasta La Vista just yet as he came back with a big bang with True Lies.

After all of this information that most fans would already know, we get to hear about Arnold’s mother again. She moved in with him and his family, and they lived together until she died from a heart problem that Arnold had surgically fixed for himself. Arnold was able to be close to his mother and give her some attention in her later years. Of course, surgery meant a break from the films and the stunts he was doing all by himself. That’s when the switch in career came again—an interest in politics that peaked at his wife’s home. Here is when things get morally gray, as Arnold quickly admits to actually having groped women in the past. When the LA Times came out with the article about multiple accusations by women who were humiliated by Arnold, instead of leaving a black mark on his career, it pushed him forward to become the Governor of California. We hear from the journalist who made the article happen, but it’s just brushed aside as if it didn’t matter at all, very quickly and very early on in the episode, so that it’s forgotten because of the bravado that comes at the end of the series. Arnold’s political career was more like a learning curve; he was new to it all, and that was the big reason he was able to handle it, but it left a bad impression on his family and his wife specifically. Maria wasn’t happy to be away from Arnold, and they had to begin counseling after his second term as governor.


Arnold then admits he had another son with one of the staffers at his home many years ago. He had cheated in 1996, and so Arnold and Maria were divorced soon after he admitted it all. We see a small interaction between Joseph and Arnold and then move quickly over to his other children as he feels lonely and remorseful about what he’s done but tries to find a silver lining here too. Arnold made a big difference in the environmental laws of California, which impacted the whole country and the world, and he hopes to continue to use his influence for good. We see a clip of him talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his urge to do good and leave a legacy behind in the world. It is obvious that with such a massively successful career, Arnold has already achieved this goal of his too, and even with all the mistakes, people will remember him as the action hero that he has always been. There’s some kind of sadness and loneliness that should come with being in this massive house all by yourself, with your family away, but Arnold keeps up his competitive spirit and his massive cigars. The series begins and ends with him relaxing in his majestic jacuzzi, befitting his massive character. I would give Arnold 2.5 out of 5 stars. The series contains minor profanity and some mention of sexual violence.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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In his own words, everything is about selling, and that's potentially what he's doing through the Netflix docuseries Arnold. Moreover, it seems like all the series really wants to show us is the successful "American Dream." 'Arnold' (2023) Recap & Review: Avoids Real Muscle And Only Touches The Surface