American Ninja Warrior is back on NBC for a new season of some of the most nerve-wracking, gravity-defying, and mettle-proving action on television. Season 13 delivers some new brand new twists, including some competitors who are much younger than usual, not to mention some new obstacles. Executive producer Arthur Smith recently spoke with CinemaBlend about American Ninja Warrior Season 13, and he opened up about the age limit being lowered to 15, how ANW is handling safety and more.
Produced by A. Smith & Co. and airing on NBC as a summer staple, American Ninja Warrior kicked off Season 13 in Tacoma, Washington at the Tacoma Dome with six challenging obstacles for the newest batch of ninjas to attempt in their fight to make it to the top of the Warped Wall. For the first time, competitors as young as 15 were eligible to run the course, and the premiere proved that youth doesn't mean that they're at a disadvantage. I spoke to executive producer Arthur Smith, and he explained the criteria for including younger teens in the new season:
The young competitors who ran the American Ninja Warrior course in Season 13 weren't all strangers to the American Ninja Warrior franchise thanks to American Ninja Warrior Junior, which welcomes contestants between the ages of 9 - 14, although split up into age groups so that the 9-year-olds aren't up against the 14-year-olds. That's not the case with American Ninja Warrior, however, and the teen newcomers are facing the same challenges as the longtime competitors. ANW has become a phenomenon by this point, and the time had come for the age limit to drop. Arthur Smith elaborated on casting younger teens in Season 13:
The teen competitors lack the experience that some of the American Ninja Warrior superstars have by this point, and are in fact not even done growing yet, but that doesn't mean that they don't have what it takes to conquer the course. In case any viewers doubted that the youngsters could keep up with the adults, the Season 13 premiere alone would have been enough to dispel that notion. Not only were a few of the teens among the top competitors of the night, but the fall of veteran ninja Daniel Gil proved that nobody is ever guaranteed the chance to race up the Warped Wall when there are so many variables.
Of course, some teens are still inevitably going to fall into the water, just as some adult competitors do, and I for one practically get sore just watching people attempt some of the obstacles. The new V Formation alone took down a lot of ninjas, including Daniel Gil. Executive producer Arthur Smith explained how the American Ninja Warrior team works to guarantee the safety of competitors, which now includes much younger ninjas than ever before:
Even though viewers can always pretty safely bet on the Warped Wall at the end of courses in a season of American Ninja Warrior, there were already some new obstacles in the beginning of Season 13, and the executive producer revealed that plenty more new ones are on the way. And they've all been extensively tested before they were incorporated into the new season once production kicked off, so no matter the age of the ninja, racing toward the Warped Wall shouldn't result in any kind of injury. That doesn't mean it'll be easy for competitors, however, especially in light of the new twist that they're facing in the middle of the course. Arthur Smith shared:
Competitors were facing two balance obstacles in the Tacoma qualifiers, and even though they didn't have to run both of them, they had a different kind of challenge to face: making a choice. Racing through the course without stopping to think isn't an option in Season 13. Does that mean one option is harder than the other, and getting to choose makes completing the course easier? Or more difficult? Arthur Smith weighed in on whether Split Decision makes the American Ninja Warrior course easier or harder, saying:
It wouldn't be American Ninja Warrior if it was easy, and the show has found ways to get more challenging year in and year out. Daniel Gil was one of many who went down on the V Formation obstacle in the Season 13 premiere. In fact, even he looked surprised when he lost his grip and fell into the water, well short of the buzzer. The Split Decision makes things even more unpredictable, and what's not to love about that?
See what happens next on American Ninja Warrior with new episodes of Season 13 on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Summer TV season is getting into full swing, so be sure to check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule for your primetime options.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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