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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The League gets uneven returns from “The Yank Banker”

Illustration for article titled The League gets uneven returns from “The Yank Banker”
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Like most of the individual elements of The League, Taco MacArthur is mostly good in small, low-intensity doses. He’s a goofy, implausible, often frustrating character who shows up places to smoke weed, be annoying, and charm everyone who apparently doesn’t know him, all while surviving with the intellect of a small child. And yet! He’s still an integral part of the show, and fun to be around sometimes (especially in evil genius mode). That’s a long way of saying that the image of Taco in the McGibblets costume, getting ready to do some scouting, is genuinely funny. And the opening scene of the MacArthur boys getting ready for the day is actually sweet and low-key, the way the show used to feel.

One on level, this is one of the better episodes of the season. There are three plots that all make sense, for the most part (Kevin and his problems with his boss and the associated birthday party, Andre’s client relationship with his old crush, and Pete’s deliberation over whether to commit-ish to the girl he’s seeing), all of which intersect in ways that make sense. That this feels like a major accomplishment is, mostly, a testament to how bad this season has been, but it also means that, taken on its own, this is just a solid (and solidly constructed) episode of television.


In fact, in Pete’s plot, “The Yank Banker” has one of the best forced football metaphors the show has had in some time. (Certainly, it’s way better than the “things that rhyme with yank” riff-fest happening over in the Andre plot, which is forced as hell and pretty grating.) His conversations with Kevin and Jenny about whether to commit feels true to the type of social niceties the show traffics in (turning 30 is a big deal for some people, as is attending a casual partner’s birthday party) to avoid cartoonishness. The negotiation principles at play work, and the eventual settlement on “free agency” is solid enough. (This story even gives a brief glimpse of a social world outside the league!)

On the other hand, the Kevin story starts on a… rough note, when he assumes his boss is pranking him by introducing a tall black woman as his wife. The intensely, painfully awkward situation that ensues is, at the least, right up on the line of totally inexcusable behavior, even for this show. If you have to yell “I’m not a racist” in a shrill, high-pitched voice, you’re already losing, especially when the excuse is ”The woman’s mass. Her size. Her height.” Taco is overly kind in saying, “It’s not racist, but it’s very rude.” Combined with the tossed-off Cosby joke in the Andre plot (there’ve been a lot of those, lately), it paints a picture of this show’s late-game humor that isn’t offensive so much as it is just lame and kind of played-out.

Meanwhile, over in Dr. Nozick’s surgical practice, an old college crush appears and, instead of asking Andre out, instead requests his medical expertise. The throughline of this plot, in which Andre has to try to avoid performing the surgery because he’s attracted to Brittany (lest he combine his yank bank with his… actual bank) is unbelievably stupid. (Seriously, why would this be a problem at all?) At least the initial moment where he thinks he’s finally getting the chance to date his crush before being, uh, crushed is effective enough. And after all, it is Andre, so he inevitable professes his love to Brittany while she’s about to go under, which is literally the worst time imaginable to blindside someone with that information. It’s super creepy and ends in disaster, which at least makes it classic League.

Stray observations:

  • “He works for you?” “He’s the worst attorney we have.”
  • Lincoln shouldn’t be the one yelling “Sic semper tyrannis!” Get your history jokes together, fam.
  • That’s TV’s Echo Kellum in the Mr. McGibblets suit.
  • Sorry everyone, Shelby is still stuck across the pond. She’ll be back next week!

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