The strategies Workaholics employs to keep Blake, Adam, and Ders from being unlikable are many and varied. The guys are (where’s my list?): immature, gross, irresponsible, crude, infantile, easily led, and fond of sexual euphemisms like (to quote this episode) “hands underneath and you make the pussy queef.” And at its worst, the show can be mostly that—a bro comedy machine bluntly targeted at the segment of its audience who find fart noises and general douchiness hilarious at face value. But Workaholics isn’t that—or not only that, anyway.
Adam, Blake, and Ders are also a genial indictment of those things, the guys’ codependency as they extend their adolescence as far as humanly possible a reaction against a world they know, deep down, they’re not capable enough to master. Their rented, squalid bachelor pad is the only place they really can be themselves—no work, no women (because, obviously), and no outsiders, leaving the guys free to let their stunted sensibilities come up with fun, stupid shit to do. A lot of Workaholics episodes, like tonight’s, start out with the guys screwing around on their roof or, in this case, tying Adam behind Anders’ battered ’Vo and dragging him on a skateboard. For all their pretensions to success (with money, with women) There’s the sense that they’re only really at ease and happy doing things like this, even (or, you know, because) stuff ends up going wrong and/or someone (usually Adam, according to Ders) gets hurt. They’re boys in their clubhouse, parroting alpha-bro phrases and pretending to want to be worse than they are.
All of this is to say that Workaholics want things both ways, and that’s a criticism I’ve made about the show before, especially when the balance tips to far into the crude or cruel. (We all remember the rotting dead skunk episode, right?) But that balance is also what keeps Workaholics from simply being the catchphrase gross-out some people claim it to be. In their ineptness at emulating the very male archetypes they claims to aspire to, the guys contain a surprisingly sophisticated critique of the cult of the bro.
“The Fabulous Murphy Sisters,” employs the well-used Workaholics strategy of having the guys worship someone they think actually embodies the baller, badass role they want to inhabit, only for them to realize that being a baller isn’t so baller after all. The fact that this particular baller is a woman, and a lesbian, adds an interesting other level to the guys’ signature nonsense.
When Alice’s sister Juliet (guest star Whitney Cummings, fitting in extremely well) comes to TelAmeriCorp to take over for Jillian during her National Guard (or Idiotsitter) responsibilities, she sneaks in behind Alice during a speech about how the guys’ parking lot stunt (that left Blake with a broken wrist and Adam comically concussed) and knocks her out with a well-executed wrestling move. (“Classic sleeper hold, huh?,” says the groggy Alice, picking herself up sheepishly after a brief period of unconsciousness.) Maribeth Monroe’s Alice is a great character, and here her wonted mixture of glee at being to lord over her employees and self-loathing over being their boss in the first place is thrown into turmoil by her sister’s arrival, Juliet’s boozy, slacker irreverence mirroring the guys’ perpetual rebellion, but in ways she can’t stomp out with a well-delivered putdown.
As for the guys, they’re thrilled. (Well, Blake and Ders are—Adam spends the bulk of the episode in a state of brain-injured semi-amnesia, something Adam DeVine makes consistently amusing.) Juliet hates work, flouts Alice with impunity, and is even more prone to talk about female anatomy than they are. (The phrase “finger-banging a TelAmeri-vag” earns their worshipful approval.) Plus, she’s actually a functional sexual being, which essentially makes her their perfect work pal. It’s emblematic of the guys’ essentially good natures that they’ve almost never let their macho aspirations shade over into homophobia—and the fact that, say, a real-life lesbian takes the time to try to correct Blake and Ders’ mostly theoretical fingering skills only makes her more baller in their eyes. (Another hallmark of the show is its absolute certainty that anything the three leads do is inherently hilarious, so if you wanted to watch five solid minutes of Blake Anderson and Anders Holm riffing on crudely elaborate terms and gestures for manually pleasuring a woman, then this is the episode for you.)
The ending of all these kinds of Workaholics stories means that the guys have to become disillusioned, and when Juliet blows off on the promised skydiving work outing she’d promised (she used to date a chick in the Navy) they can’t bring themselves to follow her all the way. Seeing Alice attempting to hide her pain at being both upstaged and let down by her “cool” sister yet again, the guys crack, Ders telling her they know about Juliet bailing, and saying, “It’s pretty cool for you to step in.” Blake even comes in for a hug, something Monroe makes the sort of unexpectedly touching little moment Workaholics can throw at you when you least expect. Naturally, the guys can’t help but immediately mock her for getting emotional, and of course Alice is her usual snappish self in shutting down Ders and Blake’s effort to sit next to coworker Didi (who Juliet had revealed used to be a Pam Grier-esque blaxploitation star), so equilibrium is restored.
“The Fabulous Murphy Sisters” is solid Workaholics. Monroe, with her wonderfully mobile face, has one of her best episodes ever, and Cummings is just right, both as Alice’s sister and as someone who finds the guys both amusing and pitiable. Cummings’ underplaying as she witnesses Ders and Blake’s horrifyingly theoretical sexual techniques is very funny (“Stop, obviously”). DeVine’s off in his own little concussed world through most of the episode, which is both funny and probably for the best. Adam’s jabbering sex-monkey act is already right on the edge of unbearable. (If he’d been part of the whole “demonstrate sexual techniques while making rude gestures” demonstration, it would crossed over into the grotesque and probably gone on for ten minutes instead of five). In the end, Alice gets the guys their skydiving trip after all, being hurled out of the plane by Juliet’s ex-girlfriend with no training and that skateboard strapped once again to Adam’s chest. “To be contindude…” proclaims the end title, as Adam seemingly plunges to his death. Eh—in the world of Workaholics, God looks out of fools and, well, fools.
- Didi Tillson, as Didi, is making a bid to be one of the TelAmeriCorp all-stars this season (she had an extended comic screaming fit over the end credits of an earlier episode). Sadly, she does not appear to have been a blaxploitation star in real life. I’d watch young Didi Tillson in Big Bad Mamma Joe.
- The guys’ stunt is intended to introduce a new sport ot the X-Games that combines skateboarding and rollerblading. “It’s called roller-skating… 2,” boasts Blake, before Ders adds, “The New Class.” Don’t think it’s going to catch on.
- “Hi, 911? Yeah, it’s Anders again…”
- Considering how restrained its been on the bodily fluid front this season in comparison the the past, Adam’s post-concussion barf is almost welcome. Oh, wait—no it’s not.
- Juliet reveals she’s still drunk after drinking and pounding hot wings all night with Murphy brother, B-Rad.
- “Just taking a shot in the dark, but you drug addicts definitely have drugs, right?”
- Karl and his homeless videographer crew are apparently available to film your quinceañera.
- Even trying to make fun of Alice, Ders and Blake can’t help but squeeze a little endearing niceness in there. Ders, holding up a glass: “Do you want a cup for your Haterade, because that’s what you’re drinking.” Blake: “That’s a dirty cup, though…”
- Juliet, on Blake and Anders’ butthole-centric sexual techniques. “Avoid that unless she says not to. She’s going to say not to.”
- Adam, still woozy the day after his concussion: “I didn’t die in my sleep, which the doctor says is a good sign.”