This episode is… a mess. Or, at the very least, “messy.” Bizarrely disconnected scenes, jarring cameos, and almost every interaction is uncomfortably confrontational. There’s a “rule” in some schools of comedy that you never want to start a scene with a conflict—or make it all about a fight—and, for the most part, it’s a good, basic guideline to follow: It’s always more interesting to see people on the same side than arguing for minutes at a time. Of course, like every good rule, it’s meant to be broken—carefully. This episode feels like a master course in the “right” and “wrong” ways to fight.
Let’s start with the bad: First, Pete’s discomfort with Andre and Meegan (henceforth referred to by the author as simply “Mandre”) is addressed, with scheduled time slots for friend visitation, and the customary taking of the sides. Honestly, it’s boring—but, then again, relationship drama in a sitcom is boring. Even Ross and Rachel had to practically Stockholm Syndrome the audience into caring by making us hear about it for over a decade. It also feels like the joke The League thinks it’s playing here is that it’s so craaazy for Meegan to be into Andre instead of Pete, but, with the way they’ve portrayed Pete season after season, I can’t believe anyone would bother with him at any point. Did we all forget why and how Meegan and Pete ended? She wanted to keep their sex life from going stale while he had a crippling fear of commitment. The mention of Mandre being “sapiosexual” may hint that the two don’t actually bone—in the biblical sense—but we’ll just have to wait and see! Guess I gotta keep watching!
Thanks to a change of Meegan’s heart re: Fantasy Football, Mandre hosts the “Draft of Innocence”—an 1890s theme draft—together. The inclusion of a “plus one” on the invite prompts a conversation between Ruxin and his wife, wherein, I assume, we’re supposed to think Sofia is a total super mega-harpy for wanting to be included in her husband’s life.
Occasionally, I like to imagine what the women of The League would be doing if it weren’t for their obnoxious, Y-chromosomed ball-and-chains. Sofia, née Who Cares She’s Useless As A Character Past Being Ruxin’s Wife, would be vacationing regularly in Cabo with a man who appreciates her ability to deal with an insane brother and her love of cooking extravagant, multiple course meals. Meegan built a loving and lasting relationship with a just-sexually-adventurous-enough, slightly-less-whitebread Pete. Jenny would be shitting on other moms at the park, frustrated without an outlet and considering starting a fight club.
The problem with “The Draft Of Innocence” is how difficult it is to write off completely. Because for every few eye-roll inducing scenes, ours bros managed to deliver a totally fire one.
Take, for instance, the triple-date between Mandre, the Ruxins, and the MacArthurs, during which Ruxin violently argues with the waiter (played by Neil Casey, a personal favorite). In a tour de force performance by both men, Ruxin and his waiter vitriolically argue over the “rigamarole” of dining out, as evidenced by the waiter’s refusal to simply leave the pepper grinder on the table for his patrons to meter out at will. It’s a scene that should not, technically, work. And, yet, I rewound it five or six times, if but to catch every inflection and lilt in Casey’s immaculate delivery. Sidenote: If any commenter out there were despicable enough to, say, put just that scene on YouTube or a Google Drive for me to enjoy at my pleasing (so that I, ironically, don’t have to deal with the rigamarole of fast forwarding through an episode), I’d be thoroughly disgusted and definitely don’t want it to be shared with me.
Rafi comes in hot with the second best argument scene of the night, loudly wondering why he can’t bid on a Filipino housemaid during what is clearly a slave auction. These are the little moments that have always made The League special: accurate, incisive football commentary delivered by a true idiot. This leads to a hamfisted attempt by Rafi at selling a kidnapped, middle-aged Asian woman, which leads Andre to delivering the strangest and delightful literal fight scene, utilizing his training in “Gentleman’s Fighting” to take on the gang of men who (rightly) arrive to kill Rafi and his friends for trying to sell one of their friends. The group declares they’re switching to Team Andre, and I’m inclined to agree.
- A quick bit of elephant-sized business: I won’t be commenting on the Steve Rannazzisi debacle (as Marah Eakin is helpfully already doing that here) except to say that I (obviously) will continue to watch the show, find the whole situation unbelievably shameful and embarrassing, and that it’d make a pretty good plotline for an episode. Moving on!
- I’m considering beginning a running tally of people and/or events that aren’t revisited within an episode to see if they’ll be utilized in the wrapping up of the season, and show, as a whole. I say “considering” so no one suspects the uncomfortably well-organized Excel sheet I have already started.
- “Especially manchego… that temptress.” Every glimpse into Russell The Sex Addict’s condition is dazzling.
- “Ruxin, would you please tell Peter that a ‘moderately successful Vine star’ is still a force to be reckoned with in this new social media world.” I could give The League an A alone for Andre’s defense of Vine stars.
- “I told him we were at a fundraiser.” “Why would you tell him that?!” “Because I want him to think we have money!” The Kevin and Pete bro-ship maintaining strong.
- I will be actively working Andre’s use of “A piece of fearless feedback?” into daily conversation.
- “That’s the trash pepper and that’s why it’s on the table.” Ruxin understands the Hierarchy of Pepper.
- “With all due respect, sir, going to a restaurant is itself a rigamarole. If you don’t want the pomp and circumstance of being served by professional waitstaff, you can go home and eat cat food over the toilet bowl for all I care: But while you are here, I will grind your pepper.” Neil Casey is a force to be reckoned with.
- “Why do you have a hair guy?” Wish Andre hadn’t been wearing a hat when asked this question.
- “This looks like a bunch of white people, bidding on minorities, wearing old-timey clothes.” Rafi with the commentary of the night!
- And Andre/everyone’s weak defense: “Not everyone’s going to be black—we’re going to get some kickers in here, eventually!”