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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Workaholics: “High Art”

Illustration for article titled Workaholics: “High Art”
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If there’s one symbol that defines Workaholics to anyone even remotely familiar with the show, it’s Blake Anderson’s mangy haircut. Which is why, in an episode that begins with an art installation gone wrong that results in a burning cross on the trio’s lawn, the defining image is Blake with a horrific hair cut, designed so he can infiltrate a night club in order to execute a sophomoric prank against a vague and suffocating “Establishment.”

At the start of the episode, Adam and Anders are psyched to attend the opening of a club owned by Patrick, a former college classmate, because they want to pitch him business ideas so that Patrick will quickly make them millionaires. Adam has an endless list of unoriginal, terrible ideas, or “raisins”: “soap on a chain; all M&M trail mix; a shirt that doubles as a cool hat.” But Adam and Anders dismiss Blake’s winning idea out of hand: an unburnable flag, valuable only because it foreshadows many subsequent flag burnings in this episode.

Unlike Adam and Anders, who change into club clothes and put a ridiculous amount of product in their hair, Blake doesn’t want to change himself at all, and he calls Patrick by his dismissive college nickname, which quickly gets him barred for the club under the guise of not following dress code. Adam and Anders ditch Blake to go inside, eager to please Patrick and make him amenable to business ideas—which involves snorting a lot of cocaine, then stealing Blake’s idea and misrepresenting it as their own.

Blake defines himself as a “hairy artist” in contrast to Adam and Anders as “bald sellouts,” so he joins up with Karl, who pops up as a member of an “art collective” that’s essentially a bunch of kids vandalizing the neighborhood. Ryan Lee—who played the member of the Changlorious Bastards that Britta seduces via text, as well as one of the film kids in Super 8—is properly menacing as Shame, the collective’s leader, but the best part about his character is how frightened and deferent Karl seems to be in his presence.

The collective pulls off liberating performance art pieces—shoplifting salad from a grocery store because “salad belongs to all people,” and Blake proves his worth with a Thousand Island dressing oil slick to take out a security guard. That makes him privy to Shame’s big idea: They’ve been saving their urine for some large-scale prank/avant-garde performance art. Blake sees that as an opportunity to get revenge on Adam and Anders while taking Patrick and his shitty nightclub down a few pegs, through some creative sprinkler system rerouting.

Meanwhile, without Blake’s input, Adam and Anders can’t make the unburnable flag idea work. They try several miserable options, and then use more cocaine to power their ideas, which yield exactly zero results. They walk into their business meeting back at the club—with overly tan faces—where they meet a shockingly clean-cut Blake, supposedly there to pitch the idea with them. But he turns away to execute the plan, before having second thoughts, just as Adam and Anders rethink how they’ve treated Blake. They’re meant to get back together, and to screw over Patrick and Shame at the same time, while saving Karl from an overambitious kid’s control.


The whole idea of this little kid prank outfit trumped up as an art collective through Shame’s pseudo-rebellious vision is funny, especially the grip he has on Karl and Blake through the first two-thirds of the episode. But it’s the plan in action, with Blake essentially in disguise as a normal club patron, that pushes a bit too far. It makes sense that the trio would turn from their division towards reuniting, but the problem is Blake’s haircut. For Blake to cut his hair, he would have to ardently believe in the reasons for doing so, and I didn’t buy that he’d go that far for a group of kids and a revenge plot against his two best friends. The two people most believably capable of getting Blake to cut his hair for a scheme would be Adam and Anders. Cutting Blake’s hair—and obviously they didn’t actually cut his hair—is a big move, and tying that into Blake seeking revenge on his friends instead of working with them cheapened the moment.

Stray observations:

  • If you caught Tom Green’s episode of WTF With Marc Maron (or followed him on Twitter when he was on set in December), then you heard Green appears in an upcoming Workaholics episode. It’s not clear which one, but considering the guest stars the show booked so far this season, this is yet another success.
  • “I’m punk rock too. I own every Good Charlotte CD.” I owned The Young And The Hopeless, but cannot for the life of me figure out what seemed appealing about these guys even back then.
  • “Black people of all shapes and ages love to be called ‘bro.’” That’s a decent summation of Adam’s racial sensitivity.
  • “You only YOLO once.”—I’m pretty sure every time a douchebag says this, something terrible happens. It’s the Douchebag Butterfly Effect.
  • “Chapstick—for straight men though.”