What if the ‘Karate Kid’ Isn’t the Hero?

The “Karate Kid” was a hero of the 1980s. Now he’s back, with the actor Ralph Macchio reprising the role for the series “Cobra Kai.” The story is ostensibly a classic battle between a hero and a villain. But as Mr. Macchio notes, it’s actually more complex. Audiences, he says, “recognize the good and bad in both these guys and are rooting for both with their two separate types of shortcomings and problems and demons.”

On this episode of “Sway,” Kara and Mr. Macchio discuss how “Cobra Kai” got from YouTube to Netflix, and explore the show’s underlying themes of toxic masculinity, bullying and polarized politics.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

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