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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The League: “The Vapora Sport”

Illustration for article titled The League: “The Vapora Sport”
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The League can do as good a send-up on the perils of political correctness as any of the rest of them, but tonight’s episode, which featured a racist piano, two separate assaults on handicapped people, and a sex-sniffing dog, was too much. It wasn’t so much offensive as it was sloppily plotted and weirdly executed. When The League introduces a black, wheelchair-bound man (played by the ever-excellent J.B. Smoove) and a player piano that plays “Pick a Bail of Cotton,” it’s a safe bet that at some point they’ll collide. In “The Vapora Sport,” they do so literally, but the whole episode was a series of big jokes banging together, never quite cohering or getting as big of laughs as they should have.

“The Vapora Sport” of the title is an athletic shoe, one highly coveted by the newly declared athlete Pete. Operating on the All-American logic that the fancier your shoe, the easier it will be to start running, Pete goes for a top-of-the-line pair of sneakers, only to have the last pair snatched out from beneath his nose by the aforementioned wheelchair-bound man, who wants the extra tread for looks. There’s the obvious, repeated joke here—why does a man in a wheelchair need more tread?—but it’s undercut nicely by the fact that, honestly, Pete might as well buy a pair of house slippers for all the tread he needs. When he can’t budge a car that a fetching young lady has trouble with—instead, slipping and busting open his chin—Pete blames the shoe traction and not his (likely) weak, weak arms.

Meanwhile, Taco has trained his parents’ dog Ditka (of course the McArthurs’ parents have a dog named after Mike Ditka) to bark at the smell of sex. This is totally bizarre, but ends up being an integral part of the plot. The dog barks at the dude who installs a new player piano, leading Kevin to believe that he had gone to the bathroom to jerk off over Jenny’s short-robed presence. Ruxin uses the dog to try to determine if a partner in his firm, Michelle, is sleeping her way to the top. Instead, a sort of crazy mess happens in which Ditka anally rapes a seeing-eye dog, Ruxin pretends to be that seeing-eye dog, and a blind client tackles Ruxin to the ground. There’s some good physical comedy work here, but the scene’s haphazardness prevented it from getting as big a laugh as it might have.

The ever suffering Andre stitches up Pete’s chin for him, and at the clinic, Pete runs into the shoe-snatcher. He steals and replaces the sneakers as Andre mulls over Smoove’s request for a set of  implants that will turn his calves from “leg breasts” to “leg titties.” Kevin somehow backs over Smoove’s wheelchair on his way to return the player piano. Pete runs into them both, Kevin wheeling Smoove along on a makeshift chair, and challenges them to a race. This leads to Smoove rolling down a hill and crashing into the piano, which feebly plays out the notes of “pick a bale of cotton.” And his velous suit is more than just scuffed—it’s likely ruined. Chalk one up for Kevin.

Stray observations.

  • I love that Andre’s set of reference for plastic surgery noses is the Jackson family.
  • Though I thought the scene of Ellie singing along to the racist piano whie in a white robe was pretty heavy-handed, I am shocked that no one has thought of “The Blackface Swan” before.
  • Jenny and Kevin have a dream for their daughter: “I just want her to do an activity that ensures she never has sex.”