September 5th, 2014 The League 0
Television shows, especially comedies, tend to get pretty stale after their first few seasons. It’s not that the shows become unwatchable; they just lose the initial sparks that make every joke land and every plot-point feel completely original. The staleness is inevitable, but occasionally a show will pull out of its slump and prove that it still deserves its spot on the air. Last night’s 6th season premiere of The League was definitely an example of a show pulling out of its slump; the episode could have easily felt worn-out, but instead it excited me for the season to come.
As of last season, I had felt that The League was well past its prime. Other than the season finale and the Rafi and Dirty Randy episode, the show had a pretty lackluster 5th season, which became more of a chore for me to watch than entertainment. The characters were still fun to watch, and I usually chuckled every so often, but overall it felt tired and overdone. In my mind, if season 5 was already feeling stale, season 6 couldn’t be much better, right? Fortunately, I was wrong.
Not only was this episode not “bad”, it was pretty hilarious. Every gag landed, from the more typical ones at the beginning episode to the more surprising ones that came later on (spoilers to come, so beware). A huge reason for this episode to be so above-average is that Jenny is finally the Shiva winner! Not only does Jenny deserve that trophy more than any other member of that league, she’s by far the least obnoxious winner to date. Her calendars and mug commemorating the occasion were just the right amount of gloat-y without it reaching into Ruxin-territory. Jenny’s win will also lead to even more constant Kevin humiliation, never a bad thing. Other hilarious gags include the guys playing “street golf”, Teflondre always ending up on top, and Ruxin accidentally being added to multiple other leagues and drafting for all of them instead of quitting.
Though the show’s more typical gags made me chuckle, and alone would’ve made the episode pretty fun, what made it stand out for me was the dark turn it took in the middle. Taking a page out of fellow FXX show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s book, The League proved that the darkest things are often the funniest, and that even the death of a friend can make for some of an episodes biggest laughs. I was somewhat surprised when Ted (a rarely seen but much-remembered member of the titular league, played by Adam Brody) was hit by a car and subsequently killed off the show, but did it ever turn out to be comedic gold. Ted’s death led to the league sitting their version of Shiva (pronounced sheeva like the trophy, not like the traditional Jewish mourning event that would make sense in this context), which consisted of them drafting their teams over the open casket. The league has always been full of scumbags, but it takes real human-garbage to draft fantasy football teams in front of the open-casket belonging to a dead best friend.
Living up to their reputation of being pretty horrible people, the episode continued with more funeral-related shenanigans, including interrupting the mourners’ prayer with an Andre prank-flashmob, Kevin and Jenny leaving the ceremony to have sex, and Taco filling Ted’s spot in the casket to retrieve the draft sheet that was accidentally left in there. Also important: whoever wins the Draft this year also wins Ted’s beach house, thereby adding even more stakes to this overly-competitive competition. All of this is to say that The League feels like it has rediscovered what makes it funny, and I’ll definitely be tuning in to see if the energy can be sustained, and you probably should too.