Who would have thought that The League would make it to a fifth season (with a sixth already ordered)? Okay, I’m sure some people did, but I had my doubts. When The League first premièred I was completely disinterested—I was unfamiliar with most of the cast and scoffed at the idea of a sitcom built around fantasy football. Then I watched a few episodes and it somehow became one of my favorite comedies on television. The League is often seen as a dumb comedy—the last season did end with a room full of people shitting their pants—but it takes some smarts to create a show that appeals to both ends of the spectrum. It’s a hit among the obsessive sports/fantasy league fans and a hit to the opposite crowd: people like me who have fallen asleep during football games and picked a fantasy team based on how attractive the players are. Plus, The League is undeniably funny. The cast does wonders with the semi-improvisational format; so many scenes play as if these guys really are just dicking around with each other, unaware that a camera crew is also in the room.
Take the cold open of “The Bachelor Draft.” The friends are gathered around to watch Andre’s Top Gun themed wedding invitation, a clip so awful that it rivals his video-dating attempt. They try to one-up each other on punny titles related to Trixie’s semen allergy. Some are better than others (“Risky Jizzness” is my favorite) and some are just plain stupid—but they are stupid in a realistic way, where friends don’t have a team of writers polishing all of their dialogue.
In a lucky coincidence, both Andre’s wedding and the draft are to take place in California. Naturally, Trixie doesn’t want the draft to happen during their wedding weekend but Andre decides to do it anyway during the bachelor party. This leaves Jenny out in the cold because she’ll be reluctantly attending Trixie’s bachelorette party. What follows is a great montage that combines my favorite things about The League: everyone treating Andre like shit and Jenny conniving to get her way. Andre goes around asking all of the guys to be his best man only to get turned down again and again, each guy trying to pawn the duties off on someone else. Eventually Jenny tells Andre that she’ll be his best man—because it means she gets to attend the bachelor party.
In California, we finally get to meet the oft-mentioned but never seen Ted who, beautifully enough, is played by Adam Brody. Brody has had a tough time breaking out of the Seth Cohen shell (it doesn’t help that his offscreen persona seems to be pretty similar to his OC role) but he does have the comedic chops to pull this off, even if he falls just a little bit shy in comparison to the rest of the cast. Still, he’s great as Ted, a pretentious dick who, as it turns out, has been diagnosed with AIDS. It’s a strange twist and though nothing on this show should surprise me, it caught me a bit off guard. They all react in typical fashion: Andre is made fun of, Taco is clueless (he thinks this means Ted can drive in the HOV lane), and Rafi offers awful advice, etc. The League has spent four seasons showing us that this group of friends are unapologetically terrible people—really, their only saving grace is that the show is paired with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia so by comparison, The League is full of saints—so at this point, they’ve got the “anything goes” factor working for them. That’s why, in this world, it somehow makes total sense that Kevin and Pete are a little jealous of Ted. On the one hand, Ted has AIDS but on the other hand, he won the league last year! To Kevin, there is no way this can be a coincidence, which leads to him taking some of Ted’s pills with the hopes that it’ll make him do better. It’s so very stupid, but it works
As for our buddy Ruxin, he quit the league because he didn’t want to do any of the Sacko punishments and joined Rafi’s instead. It only lasts a few days but now he has to deal with getting out of Rafi’s league. This exit process, for some reason, involves the other league members chasing after him with weapons. Seth Rogen wielding a trident made of dildos is a strange way to end a season première—but The League is a strange show.
- This is the first of a two-parter which means there’s more Adam Brody next week! My teen heart is so happy.
- I know that Rafi is a fan favorite but he’s always hit or miss for me. Yes, he’s a funny character and he’s delightfully disgusting but sometimes he’s too much. That said, Jason Mantzoukas’ delivery on my favorite exchange of the night was golden: “Ruxin made fun of Andre’s shirt and Ted has AIDS.” “Nice shirt, seriously—wait a minute, what?!”
- Any sort of bro wordplay usually makes me cringe but I’ll give a free pass to The League for the nauseating “It’s not a rose, it’s a brose. And this is a broposal.”
- I enjoy that the show makes the athletic cameos easier on me by saying some variation of “Oh look, it’s _____ who plays ______ on the ________!”