The League's second season begins tonight, and although it's on a popular cable network (FX) and is by far one of the funniest shows on television, I keep having a hard time finding people who've seen it. Maybe it wasn't advertised enough, maybe it looks too sports-nerdy or something, but whatever the reason, many people aren't watching this show even though they should. Here are the main reasons why it's worth your time. Other than the fact that it's, you know, hilarious.
It's not just that the show stars Nick Kroll and Paul Scheer (a lot of bad shows star good comedians -- looking at you, Big Lake), it's that everyone in the cast is funny, and they all have a genuinely great chemistry with each other. You really believe they're friends, and since the show is only semi-scripted, you get great moments of ad-libbing that are funnier than any sitcom's scripted moments.
You Don't Need to Know Anything About Football to Find It Funny
Yes, there will be a scene that shows the league's draft, and if you don't know anything about football you'll be a little bit in the dark, but scenes like that are always peppered with jokes and asides that have nothing to do with sports, so you'll always have something to laugh at. The wise inclusion of their football-ignorant friend Taco (who I'll get to later) in most football-heavy scenes serves as an excellent distraction from that subject, too, and he's never not hilarious. My point is that The League isn't Pro Football Prospectus: The Show, and you're not going to be inundated with esoteric jokes about obscure stats and historical plays. ...Very much.
But If You Do Know Things About Football, It's Awesome
There are discussions of Adrian Peterson's beautiful Purple Jesus hammies. There is mockery of a foolish league member who drafted Tiki Barber -- in 2009. Cursing of Joseph Addai. Endless Ochocinco jokes. The show's definitely more about this group of comedians hanging out than it is about football, but the football references that are there are very enjoyable, if you're into that.
As I said before, all the Leaguers are very funny, but Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) is the most universally awesome. He participates in the league despite not knowing anything about football or even really knowing what it is, he smokes weed out of a unicorn bong, he tries to pay his league fees in poems and homemade hummus and he's the kind of man who marches up to the manager of a car dealership and says "My name is Taco, and I wanna work here" and gets hired on the spot (as a janitor, but whatever, details). And if you don't watch the show, you don't know about Mr. McGibblets and I can't really do him justice in blog form, but trust me -- you want to know about Mr. McGibblets.
No Need to Fear the Mumblecore
When this show started I really didn't want to watch it due to the involvement of mumblecore pioneers Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton. I hate their movies, you see. And almost everything they represent artistically. But you know what? When they're playing characters written by someone else, in a setting they didn't design, accompanied by actual actors? They're surprisingly really, really funny, and totally at home trading barbs with the likes of Nick Kroll. So no reason to stay away on their account, if that was the issue.
These Are Your Friends
It's a time-honored requirement of sitcom characters, but it's in place for a reason -- everybody knows at least one of these guys. Paul Scheer's character is Andre, the insecure guy who thinks he's become a bigshot and wears silly hats he saw on Entourage and Justin Timberlake. Taco is the weirdo stoner. Nick Kroll's character is a sarcastic asshole with a boring job. Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) is the married one whose kid embarrasses him. They're everymen, only funnier. Not a novel concept, but a comfortable one just the same.
It's Cathartic for Those Suffering from a Fantasy Football Proximity
Personally, I live with a fantasy football/fantasy baseball freeeeeak, so anything that gently mocks this obsessive behavior is unbelievably therapeutic, and I suspect there are many other people in my boat. So if you're one of us: in the words of the immortal Karen Walker, it's funny 'cause it's true. (Let no one ever say I can't work Karen Walker into a post about football.)
And you can jump right in tonight; you don't really need to watch the six-episode first season. Though I guarantee you'd laugh if you did. Pilot embedded below for handy viewing.
You a League fan? Proclaim your love in the comments, then see what else to expect this fall.
Watch TWoP's editors discuss this fall's best returning TV shows in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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