Sunday, August 21, 2011

The League (TV 2009)

by DionysusPsyche

FX brings us the tv series The League, about five high school friends who participate in a fantasy football team. Similar to the show The Guild (online friends whose lives focus around a game similar to WoW), the five friends and one wife face obstacles each week to watch and win the title and ultimately obtain the year's trophy, the Shiva, based not-so-loosely on their high school valedictorian.

Pete Eckhart (Mark Duplass) is the "ordinary average guy" that Joe Walsh sings about and four time champion of the Shiva Bowl. Upon finding himself newly single, Pete is tossed back into the world of bachelorhood. Which suits him just fine, except for his friends and fellow competitors of the Bowl who block his attempts at dating and ruin each other's chances at the big win.

Kevin MacArthur (Stephen Rannazzisi), Pete's best friend, is a contender for the Shiva, mostly on account of his wife Jenny, who is a bigger football fanatic than he is. They are a double threat, well, mostly just Jenny. Kevin is always running up against jokes that Jenny is responsible for his winning plays, accusations that he resents, but not enough to stop taking her advice.

Rodney Ruxin (Nick Kroll) crosses Daffy Duck with Tobias Funke from Arrested Development. A Jewish lawyer in a sexless marriage, Ruxin's two objectives are to get his wife back in the sack with him at any cost and also to win the Shiva. He is paranoid, ruthless, and a little whiny.

Andre Nowzik (Paul Scheer) is "white and nerdy" and a rich surgeon. He is also the butt of everyone's jokes and once got high on a joint that was actually just made of pubic hair. Known for his dumb catch phrases and bizarre sense of fashion, Andre uses his funds and connections to try and take over the Shiva Bowl.

Taco MacArthur (Jon Lajoie), Kevin's younger brother, is reminiscent of a young Will Ferrell, and by far the most amusing of the Shiva gang. An unemployed musician, he makes his own ringtones of animals copulating and his own homemade deodorant to save money. He knows nothing about football, but it doesn't keep him from playing. He also makes the occasional birthday song, rap video, and frequently hooks up with women.

The League is a cross between The Office and the movie Old School if it had been a television series with less house fraternities and more emphasis on Vince Vaughn's character's everyday life. The episodes are somewhat improvised, and the cast is fresh. My only criticism of the show is the portrayal of female characters as they often appear vapid, demanding, and annoying. The wives are characterized as nagging baby wanting machines set on destroying their husbands' outside interests. The only exception to this rule is Jenny MacArthur who is equally obsessed with sports and winning as her husband. Minus the villainous female sirens, the show is an amusing romp in male bonding and subsequent elbowing to gain the trophy.

You don't have to like sports to love The League. 

No comments:

Post a Comment