In the best Workaholics episodes, the guys’ insatiable quest for nonsense snowballs into a seemingly inevitable crescendo of comic chaos. In a bad episode of Workaholics, things just pile up in a heap of crude, juvenile grossness. “Best Buds” is of the latter variety. The crude, gross one.

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There’s nothing wrong with the premise, as the guys decide to throw over the telemarketing grind to join Karl in his new legal weed/burrito concern—honestly, such an enterprise should bring out the best in the guys’ (and the show’s) ongoing examination of the joys of complete and utter irresponsibility, sloth, and buffoonery. Instead, “Best Buds” caters to the series’ penchant for gross-out gags and mean-spiritedness, all delivered without any of the show’s signature leavening cleverness or charm to keep the stink down. Credited to Anders Holm (who also directs), “Best Buds” suffers from a tragically unbalanced sensibility—the jokes are lame, the guys are shrill and cruel, and all that’s left is a maggot-ridden dead skunk of an episode. Which also features a maggot-ridden dead skunk.

Said unfortunate critter, introduced dripping in the gutter outside of Karl’s abandoned storefront (he claims squatter’s rights), once introduced, is plenty cringeworthy. But, even lingered on as here, the spectacle isn’t out of place on Workaholics, especially this season, which has reveled in scatology and outright ickiness more than any time in the past. When it comes back however, chopped up in gory detail in the restaurant’s back room by Blake and Adam in revenge for Ders and Karl bossing them around, and then served—eyeballs, maggots, possible penis and all—to Ders and Karl, who must choke it down in deference to a visiting food critic, it’s simply the most repugnant sequence in the show’s history. Grossness and comedy aren’t antithetical, but forget to bring the laughs and all that’s left is a carnival geek eating weird shit to the delight of gawkers turned on by debasement.

It’s of a piece with the rest of the humor in “Best Buds,” which neglects the show’s strengths in favor of such freakshow awfulness for its own sake. Karl washing every surface in the restaurant by hocking huge loogies on it vies with the uncharacteristic casual callousness of watching Adam and Blake (hotboxing in their taco/burrito costumes) accidentally knock a pretty roller skater’s teeth out in bloody, lingering detail. What makes a show about aimless, destructive protagonists palatable is the underlying idea that Adam, Blake, and Ders aren’t really bad guys. Here, they act like dicks as always, but they also revel in their dickishness and/or don’t care about the pain they cause. That heedless insensitivity would poison the guys’ shenanigans this time out—even if their lines weren’t as substandard as they are here.

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The improv-y interplay among the guys is Workaholics’ best feature, allowing as it does Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm the opportunity to bounce off each other. These guys are not only funny, they’re funny together, their longtime partnership imbuing their characters’ dialogue with a loose, back-and-forth rhythm that can be downright giddy. Unfortunately, neither Holm’s script nor the actors’ frequent improvs are up to snuff, leaving the episode’s descent into yahoo territory all the more glaring.

I’m usually a fan, but Adam DeVine’s motormouth schtick often borders on unintentionally obnoxious (as opposed to obnoxious by design), and here, largely stripped of the layers of desperate self-awareness that make Adam palatable, he’s hard to stomach. As glibly clever as his catchphrases are this week (“burweedo,” “Shaquille BurritO’Neal,” “How bout you chill with the tone…loc”), coming from this episode’s Adam, his cocksure riffing comes off as boorish. Ders once again is all too willing to abandon his pals for a taste of authority, but he’s not given anything funny to do. (The closest he gets are his desperate attempts to ignore new partner Karl’s horrifying hygiene in order to preserve his bossman role.) Blake’s position as the group’s innocent and voice of (so-called) decency is abandoned as he gleefully follow’s Adam’s lead in vomit-worthy vengeance. The whole episode is as rushed and ill conceived as two stoned dudes in Mexican food mascot costumes screaming and playing in traffic—it’s all shrieking, crude spectacle. With a maggoty dead skunk.

No one’s saying the comic balancing act that is Workaholics isn’t difficult, but this episode muffs the trick—badly.

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Stray observations:

  • The show continues to leave TelAmeriCorp, to diminishing returns. The guys do visit in order to misunderstand the nature of “legal weed” (and get demoted back to $9 an hour), but it’s time to put the “work” back in Workaholics.
  • Another episode with no Jillian? This will not stand.
  • “Stop selling weed? You make me wanna barf, and then claw your eyes out like a cat that’s barfing.”
  • Blake’s response to Alice claiming there’s no workplace that allows people to get high: “Yeah you can—our garbage man smokes weed.”
  • Adam, touting his Karl-provided medical weed ID: “I have AIDS! Ha ha—I don’t have AIDS though, right?”
  • “Were you fatality-ed by Sub Zero, ‘cause now you don’t have a spine.”
  • Bodily function count: loogies, eating dead skunk burritos with maggots and b-hole hairs.

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