Two things happened last Wednesday: I got Covid (it’s still very much a thing, FYI) and Netflix released Beckham. The universe works in mysterious ways.
If you haven’t yet found yourself with 285 minutes of spare time to watch the story of “Golden Balls”, allow me to offer some highlights. The four-part docuseries – which includes candid interviews with Victoria and David Beckham, as well as archival footage from both on and off the pitch, and appearances by the couple’s friends, colleagues and family – opens on David tending to his beehives.
Director Fisher Stevens, who you might know as Succession’s Hugo Baker, described the interview process as “like therapy”. I wasn’t prepared for how moving I found this series – and it wasn’t just the Covid-induced fever that gave me all the feels. The internet has lit up with commentary on everything from throwback paparazzi shots to that meme of David telling Victoria, when she claimed to be “working class”, to “be honest” about the car her dad drove her to school in.
Style plays a leading role in the series. Posh and Becks might be the pinnacle of late ’90s and early ’00s fashion – an era that is currently doing the rounds in our wardrobes, to the dismay of many a millennial. I can’t write this story and not mention the purple wedding ensembles (which the couple admit were kind of insane). Let’s also take a moment to reflect on sarong-gate during the 1998 World Cup in France, the stir caused by David’s shaved head in 2000 (as well as other signature haircuts), and the vault of coordinating Versace, Gucci and more in the couple’s respective wardrobes. Both then and now, the Beckhams are fashion people as much as anything.
For a couple with a reported combined net worth of more than $1.5 billion (£825 million), it would be easy for the former professional football player and Spice Girl to seem out of touch. And like, they are. Of course they are – let’s look at the real estate portfolio for one. But glimpses of David’s “tiring” obsessive-compulsive disorder and the impact that toxic English tabloid journalism has had on the family’s mental health bring an undeniable humanity to the table.
“Neat freak” is putting it lightly when it comes to David’s personality. Comments are made about how the kitchen looks like it’s barely been used, but David is quick to jump to the couple’s defence: they cook there every day (Cookin’ With Brooklyn had to start somewhere, after all), and he doesn’t go to sleep until everything is in order. He even trims the candle wicks and cleans smoke stains from the glass containers.
David’s OCD is indirectly discussed throughout the series, but it’s a scene inside his wardrobe that really offers a peek behind the curtains. Footage of perfectly pressed, folded and hung items is sure to thrill Marie Kondo fans. But it’s not just a “quirk” of someone with the resources to maintain such an impeccable space. David has spoken in previous interviews about living with the disorder, including needing to line things up and put them in pairs so they feel “perfect”.
And while the reality of living with OCD is not to be taken lightly, there are lessons to be learned from David’s orderly approach. His T-shirts and knits are laid at an angle (and organised by colour, of course) inside drawers so he can see what’s underneath (a trick I intend to steal). It’s also revealed that he plans his outfits for the entire week and arranges them on a rail in his “dressing suite” in preparation.
At one point he notices a hanger slightly off kilter in a cupboard of suits and comments, “Someone has been in here.” In the same episode, there’s a flashback to a young David standing in his childhood bedroom. “I hate having an untidy room,” he says, before the camera pans to his wardrobe. This perfectionist mentality may ultimately be what made David such a good athlete. It’s definitely what made him such a meticulous dresser.
After a week of living beneath my doona, I’ve made my return to reality. I also hate having an untidy room. So if anyone asks what I’m doing this weekend, it will almost definitely include rewatching the series, deep-cleaning my sick bed and adding a Beckham touch to my wardrobe. And I don’t mean shopping for low-rise jeans or aviators – I’ll leave the Y2K style renaissance to the Gen Zs. I’m too busy researching steam closets I’ll never actually buy and refolding my underwear drawer.
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