Monday, November 9, 2009
There is reason for FX to celebrate The League
Three weeks ago, I would have never thought that I would be writing another installment of "Shows You Should Be Watching" about FX's new comedy series The League. Over the past couple months, this show grabbed some great exposure with having hilarious promos air during commercial breaks for its' lead-in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. These promos would depict characters in certain serious situations with their voice-overs being concerned about nothing but fantasy football, like a man mulling over a trade while having sex with his wife and another guy wondering if the funeral home where he is attending a funeral has Wi-Fi so he can look at his team online. While these promos were executed perfectly, I feared that this show would be nothing more than a one-trick pony: a show about fantasy football jokes in real-life settings for 30 minutes.
My one-trick pony fears were erased about ten minutes into the premiere. Let me preface this review by explaining to non-sports fans that this show is neither directly geared to football or solely based around the fantasy football universe. Think Eastbound and Down, where the show is tied to sports, but each episode is more about character interactions in their everyday lives with hilarious results. All you need to enjoy this show is a sense of humor.
The League follows the lives of four friends who are a part of a fantasy football league, which they all take pretty seriously. The premiere starts off by introducing the characters on the eve of their fantasy football draft. The friends include:
- The commissioner of the league Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi), whose big secret that his wife Jenny (Katie Aselton) really is the operational team owner, which means that she calls all the shots and makes all the transactions
- Drug enthusiast (a nice way of saying stoner) Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) who is also Kev's little bro; plus he's really out there and my favorite character thus far
- Peter (Mark Duplass) whose favors his fantasy football obsession over married life with his wife Meegan (the lovely Leslie Bibb)
- Ruxin (Nick Kroll) whose vow to finally win the league championship is being held back by not only morality issues but the hurdle of having a knockout wife who will not give him any...uh you know...yes, that
- Finally there is Andre (comedian Paul Scheer) who is a plastic surgeon rich with money but a lifelong geeky loser in life and within the group
The dudes with their beloved trophy
Each character brings a great dynamic to the overall show and their chemistry does not feel forced at all. The jokes are crude and push the boundaries even more so then Sunny, which is great because it's on cable and they are given a longer leash to run with. After some research, I found out that one of the creators is Jeff Schaffer, who has written and directed episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I definitely see that style of comedy boiling over to his new project.
If you are interested in watching the show, please feel free to jump right in. Some events are setup a little more chronologically than Sunny, but it is real easy to catch up what's going on. However I would recommend catching the re-runs just so you can enjoy the hilarious first two episodes (FX has been running the first two a lot).
For the past few years, FX has been trying their best to grasp some comedy genre viewership since the cancellation of 2003's Lucky (btw - that was a great show I just recently forgave the network for axing). Their recent attempts failed and failed again with the very forgettable Starved (remember that one? Yeah I barely do too.) and Testes. So if The League stays on its current course, FX is going to have another hit on their hands. The League will finally establish that 1-2 comedy punch with Sunny that FX has spent the last few years desperately trying to find.
Here are some the funny promos I mentioned above. See them for yourself:
Funeral For a Friend
Sex and Football