It’s a good sign when an episode of Workaholics starts with the guys screwing around on the roof. The tableaux Adam, Blake, and Ders form up there are a picture of their ideal existence—doing something mildly illegal, smoking or drinking something illicit, and shooting the shit with their best friends. Here, preparing for yet another day of telemarketing at TelAmeriCorp (the essence of meaningless work), Ders reads the paper (bemoaning the encroachment of “news boobies” in the ads), Adam messes irresponsibly with a slingshot, and Blake blends up the “strawberry latte bowl,” a mixture of their three favorite non-alcoholic morning beverages, strawberry Quik, decaf coffee, and Red Bull. (“Not good, at all,” grimaces Ders, “But I’m gonna choke this one down because it’s symbolic of our friendship.”) Even when Adam’s jackassery accidentally takes down a passing pigeon, the guys are still likable, with Adam suitably chagrined, Blake horrified, and Ders ready to soothe Blake’s grief with those news boobies. They even bring the bird to work with them in order to give it a proper burial (which is a “Magic Johnson hook shot into the dumpster,” as established earlier this season). For all the chaos and destruction they cause (sorry, bird), the guys have good hearts—they‘re just incapable of reining in their childish desires.
So when local internet guru Trilly Zane (guest star Clark Duke, entertainingly smackable) is brought into TelAmeriCorp to drum up sales with his buzzword-dropping networking skills, the guys are easily whipped into a frenzy of desperate need. When Zane pumps up his abilities, boasting, “I’m here to destroy old media paradigms and increase sales using the power of viral marketing—and I’m all out of old media paradigms,” Adam explains his forced chuckles to Blake, admitting, “I don’t know, but it seemed like an appropriate time to laugh.” The guys might not understand exactly what it is Zane is selling (which turns out to be the same old crap TelAmeriCorp always hawks) but his message about online popularity hits the guys right in their neediest breadbaskets, and, with signature impulsiveness, they’re soon transforming themselves into the “media paradigms” Zane assigns them.
A good, old-school Workaholics like this one turns out to be follows an enjoyably predictable pattern. A fuse is lit, there’s a chaotic, more or less destructive burst of escalating buffoonery, then a confirming resolution where the guys realize that, whatever differences the new shiny thing introduced into their friendship cause, there’s no place like a filthy rented home with the only other people on the planet who get you. As one might say, it’s the journey that counts, and “Going Viral” is as agreeably funny an episode as we’ve had all season.
For one thing, there’s plenty of TelAmeriCorp and its supporting cast of oddballs, chiefly among them Jillian (Jillian Bell, thankfully still making time to visit from Idiotsitter), who has always been the one other person who loves Adam, Blake, and Ders, in her own, lunatic way. Seeing the guys’ friendship splinter as they become obsessed with their new personae and rising Klout scores, @The3BestFrandz! (as the guys initially brand themselves) superfan Jillian is shattered when they all succumb to Zane’s influence and split according to their new branded identities. Ders, being slightly older and described by Zane as “human khakis,” adopts a Matthew McConaughey car commercial pontification vibe, crossed with Clint Eastwood’s rambling Republicanism and rechristens himself the more American-sounding Andy. (He also sells commemorative 9/11 plates.) Adam throws himself into the macho alpha male of his dreams, preening in a sleeveless work shirt thanks to his product, the Sleeve Cleaver. And Blake, labelled the millennial of the trio, spends his days enlisting Karl to enact Jackass pranks in service of selling roller-paddleboards. As ever, it doesn’t take much for the guys to abandon each other when something comes calling that promises them the things they lack—fame, adulation, people not thinking they’re aging feckless losers who just get high all day—and it’s in the journey back toward each other that makes or breaks Workaholics’ comedy.
So the guys’ immediate enthusiasm for Zane’s plan (which they don’t really understand) is stoked at the promise of a trip to Lake Havasu, which, according to Ders, is “nothing but step moms with pasties on their boobs cruising on speedboats getting turnt.” And before Zane rebrands them, the guys’ initial video for their YouTube channel is endearingly genuine, with Blake unable to conceal his social anxiety amidst his bragging, Ders describing himself as a “country club bad boy,” and Adam conceding that, although he is wont to “smash 42 beers” at a sitting, sometimes he just prefers a nice stout or two. After hearing that Bill blew his online cred by getting cocky on Periscope, Adam bluffs that he knows what a “cocky periscope is.” (“That’s like when you take your cockie out and put it through the sunroof of a moving vehicle.”)
When they do go full-on self-important douche, they guys amusingly sabotage each other, with Blake using that poor pigeon to frame the now ultra-patriotic “Andy” for killing a baby bald eagle, and Ders firing back by going “birther” and posting Blake’s birth certificate (with his real, not-millennial birthdate). And Blake’s final rejection of Zane’s ultra-competitive workplace (which has turned the office into a MeowMeowBeenz-syle dystopia in record time) is the sort of reaffirmation of the guys’ solidarity in sloth that’s almost touching. (“I’m sick of worrying about my followers and I’m ready to care about my friends.”) Adam’s followup does the job of puncturing the sentiment without losing it entirely, as he trails off with, “I’m not a brand, I’m a man! We are men… and some of us are women,” as he urges Tez, Ghost Man, Weymond, Diane, and the rest of his coworkers to delete their apps. (Alice is fine with it, since, under Zane’s rule, the office has sold precisely nothing.)
“Going Viral” finds the sweet spot of finding the guys, for all their hairtrigger idiocy, pretty sweet.
- “But he died in a pool. There’s honor in that.” Ders’ swim team roots are never far behind.
- According to Adam, he spent his entire childhood “locating bird dicks.” Explains some things.
- Of the things that impresses the guys: Zane claims to not only have left 20,000 Yelp reviews, but to “DM Rainn Wilson on the reg.”
- The guys’ appeal to Tez is, again, sort of sweet, saying of his new, hip-hop accessories and posturing, “You’re working a little hard.” “You’re more complex than what we’re looking at right here.”
- Blake thinks your Klout score is “a test you take on Facebook to determine how German you are.”
- Ders’ “all-American” persona ends up sounding a lot like Stacy Keach’s Eastwood parody on 30 Rock.