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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The League: "Kegel The Elf"/"The Sacko Bowl"

Illustration for article titled The League: "Kegel The Elf"/"The Sacko Bowl"
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Kicking off this sudden double block of episodes, "Kegel The Elf" was way better than the last few episodes, harkening back to the simpler time of the early part of season two—when men were men, and women were Jenny. There was a semblance of reality to what happened on the show, and Taco was relegated to two-and-a-half scenes.

The plot was one of the least ambitious of the show's short run, but after jaunts to high school reunions and court rooms, it was nice to keep an episode set in the fellas' houses. It's playoff time, and it's Jenny vs. Andre and Kevin vs. Ruxin. There's much taunting going on, and little Ellie is picking up on her parents' potty mouth. Her teacher is a little concerned and sits down with the two of them to hash things out. Pete, who's been dating the teacher, knows the real cause of the new choicy language, and threatens to tell teach unless Jenny helps him out. See, she just had a kid, and is scared to have sex with Pete for fear of, you know, self-esteem issues. Or so he thinks. Jenny learns that not only has the teacher been going to a kegel trainer, but that she's stronger than ever. So she dislocates Pete's dick.

There are a few things for which I have to suspend my disbelief. One is that Jenny, the mother of one of the students, would be someone the teacher would open up to about her vaginal non-floppiness. Also, that Pete would go to the hospital to have his penis realigned, and then put on jeans. The other is that Taco, as seen in one of his few scenes, would believe that he could age eggs for a thousand years and then pass them on to his kids. He's weird, not a complete moron. Otherwise, everything in "Kegel The Elf" was somewhat believable, be it Ruxin's stink bomb retaliation (milk and chicken, rancid) or the fact that Ellie would learn terrible language like "ride on my suck stick" by watching her parents making videos and reading what they write on message boards. And that Andre would be upset at another plastic surgeon because he lost a sweater in a wine bar in the guy's presence.

This episode also demonstrated just how removed Taco has been from everything. He shows up once to Ruxin's house to correct the egg snafu—he'd sent his rotten eggs to Ruxin, his lawyer, to watch over them. Then he goes to Kevin's house to warn his brother about a party he's going to throw in the house. It ends with him setting up an egg manger. Had Taco not been in the episode at all, it would have been pretty much the exact same episode; he merely provides an excuse for Ruxin to develop his stink bomb, and a place for Ruxin to pray as the field goal attempt is made. Taco certainly appears less tonight, but he's still just as distracting. I wonder what would happen if he was around far more, but doing less of his own thing and more going with the flow of everyone else. Like the Jerry character in Parks & Rec, he could still be the butt of jokes, but there'd be times when he's simply along for the ride. He'd feel a lot more integrated at the very least, and perhaps the jokes he does make would be a lot more in line with what else is happening. The show is largely improvised, after all, and more Jon Lajoie stage time could lead to something great.

But the real point is, the show works best when it heightens mundane situations into outrageousness. The centerpiece of "Kegel The Elf" is that final field goal attempt. Ruxin is outside, stinky from his own clumsiness, praying to the egg gods. Kevin loses and gets angrier than any of us have ever seen him. Pete hobbles outside to watch.When the show doesn't try too hard, it works wonders.

"The Sacko Bowl" continues the trend of emasculating Kevin. Jenny has made it to the Shiva Bowl, and Kevin not only didn't, but hasn't ever made it. He's holing himself up in the shower, jacking off to lip-read porn, stewing in his own juices, as it were. (And it were.) Ruxin notices and tries to bring it up with Jenny, but she's so focused on winning—and so horrified that Ruxin would ask her for advice on his line-up—that she refuses to notice. It later bites her in the ass when she runs into Andre at the trophy shop, where Andre can pass his curse on to Jenny; as if right on cue, Kevin decides to go out on a limb and change Jenny's line-up for her, then go jack off of course. There was a lot of petulance in the Kevin/Jenny storyline, which didn't really bother me because it's a card the show hasn't played much, especially impressive given it's a show about fantasy football man-children.


In the absence of Kevin's manliness, "The Sacko Bowl" marks the return of the most manly man around. Rafi, with his murder boners and knife-fight optimism, makes an appearance, advising Ruxin on his line-up and nay-saying the notion of motorcycle helmets. As if he knew all along, Taco steps up his game too, suddenly deciding to care about the upcoming Sacko game with Andre and positioning himself to make witty comments in just about every scene. When the supporting characters on The League are streamlined and the central story is clear, the show effortlessly elevates.

Every character has their own game to play in "The Sacko Bowl," introduced early and played out by the end. Pete buys a car that looks a lot like the one police drive, and while at first he's annoyed that everyone around him is driving the speed limit (an unforeseen negative that makes me never want one of my own), he learns to love it. He hits on women. He rescues his friends from a beating. He freaks Taco out.


Meanwhile, Andre's fear of the curse escalates slowly until he's so terrified of getting rid of the trophy that he grabs it and heads to the roof. His obsession leads to the final scene with Ruxin hoisting the trophy over his head, solar eclipse darkening the sky above him. The League has become far more than the fantasy football show that trophy represents. It's dark and dangerous, if a little inconsistent. But, thankfully, it knows how to stick a landing.

"Kegel The Elf": B+
"The Sacko Bowl": A-

Stray observations:

  • Kevin and Jenny are not great parents though, right? If my parents told me a stuffed animal was watching my every move, I think I'd be traumatized. More traumatized than I already make myself.
  • "Very successful."
  • As cheesy as Andre's "winning at the life bowl" line was, I didn't mind it. Andre's one of the only characters on TV who can get away with stuff like that.
  • "Forgive me, but I think that hat's pretty pimpin'."
  • "I'm gonna win the Sacko, and I'm gonna win your apartment."
  • Nick Kroll needs to dance like that more often. As El Chupacabra.