“Party Gawds” makes for a nearly perfect Workaholics series finale. Meaning that it’s loose, unambitious, unpretentiously amusing, and a little lazy, all hallmarks of this long-standing Comedy Central stoner sitcom staple. Essentially a fitfully successful paean to the slothful joys of not growing up, ever, the show has always rested easily on the shoulders of real-life pals Anders Holm, Adam DeVine, and Blake Anderson, who, tonight, wave one last drunken rooftop goodbye to the series and the fans that have forced enough mid-level success on them that they have no choice but to break out of the comfortable cocoon that their fictional counterparts clearly never will.
The plot starts out on a typical day, as the guys’ ambition to while away their Saturday morning with weed, Cap’n Crunch, and Paw Patrol are derailed when Blake announces that they are terrifyingly low on weed. Part of the enjoyment of Workaholics is seeing how much effort and ingenuity the guys apply to dodging effort of any kind, and their solution to their “one hit each” pot reserves is typically both impressive and stupid. From the name they come up with (“The Bermudope Highangle”) to the construction of the PVC pipe, smoke-conserving, round-the-horn contraption they cobble together, to the fact that they take the resulting monster hits right out on their front lawn, the whole escapade puts the guys’ appeal right out in broad daylight. Sure, they could have used that time and money and energy to procure some more pot, or—God forbid—to do something responsible and productive with their Saturday, but when Anders, Adam, and Blake put their perpetually buzzed heads together, they make knockabout stoner stupidity just look like so much fun.
Sadly, it’s actually Friday, and they’re missing work at their pointless TelAmeriCorp jobs. Happily, the pair of young stoners who spot the Highangle in action and inform them of that fact are just as tickled and impressed as we are by the guys’ ambitious lack of ambition and not only provide an enormous baggie of weed, but ask if they can bring over their cool young friends to party at the guys’ much-abused bachelor pad rental. Even more happily, the resulting cellphone videos of them exhorting the joys and virtues of the “tight butthole” life bring the guys to the attention of one Kurt Fossil, an energy drink rep played, in fitting casting, by original Daily Show host Craig Kilborn. It’s like the ghost of Comedy Central bro-comedy past drifted in to toast Workaholics farewell.
Offered a comically limited supply of said energy drink (“Bango!”) and one promotional bucket hat to share among them, the guys readily accept the smarmy Fossil’s offer to keep on partying, the viral evidence of their ageless booze-and-buds lifestyle a perfect tie-in to Bango!’s “never gonna die” demographic. “We can just quit TAC and get wasted all the time!,” exclaims Ders, excitedly, while Adam, flustered mid-braggadocio by an inability to think of any mogul, finally blurts that he’ll be as big a mogul as Paula Abdul. It is, truly, all the guys have ever wanted.
The predictable twist that life as a 24-hour, corporate-branded party isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be sees the guys—as they usually do when things go bad—splitting along personality lines. Adam takes to the gig best, granting him as it does all the attention, adulation, and body-shots off his tummy he could have ever dreamed of. He hires an assistant/hype man named Goons, and enlists an enthusiastically incompetent manager (Jason Mantzoukas, doing his thing to fine effect) to wheedle another whole bucket hat out of the glad-handing but hard-nosed Fossil. Even Adam, however, has to admit he’s not as spry as he used to be, urging his adoring public to start their video of his keg stand at 20 instead of 1. (“So it makes it seem like I’m better at drinking.”) Ders, fares worst, his constitution unable to keep him from turning into a surly drunk, boring everyone in sight by rehashing his old college swim team glories, and alternately barfing into his chip bag and swilling mixed alcohols out of a wastebasket. (“It’s a garbage cup,” he snarls in response to Blake’s concern.)
Blake, at first happy that his rooftop theremin solos and five-joint-at-once smoking skills are going over so well, is the first to notice that Bango!’s influence is malignly perverting the guys’ dreams of a pure, hedonistic life. When a pair of fans show up on the roof in a Bango! Blake wig (free with any purchase) it’s bad enough, but when they steal his thunder by jumping his signature party move by jumping off the roof into the swimming pool, it’s worse. And that’s before the worshipful first-time smoker (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Anderson’s Dope costar Tony Revolori) shatters himself on the ground by emulating them. (Later, the paralyzed but still-devoted kid enthuses that Fossil allowed him a set visit in lieu of paying his medical bills.)
Such carnage only pleases the sharklike Fossil (who, one hopes hyperbolically, enthuses, “Death toll in the hundreds!”) who pitches that the guys get their own show. (Web series, but still.) There, the fault lines only grow, as Adam goes mad with power and ludicrous demands, Ders is a chain-smoking, alcoholic wreck, and Blake, after unwillingly being fitted for hair extensions, finally snaps. Blake is traditionally the guys conscience, although, as here, he’s not all that great at stringing his thoughts together. Ranting about his very marketable mop of hair, he rants, “It’s just hair, man. It’s dead fingernails, something like fingernails, like but on your head but like a horn, like a rhino’s horn, which is also hair I think.” Taking a pair of electric clippers to his ratty mane (“Your brand!,” shrieks Adam), Blake’s sacrifice is all for naught as, after Ders hurls himself right through a big screen TV (“I was trying to kill myself, man.”), the guys split up, eventually winding up DJ-ing separately at several low-rent functions. (Although, in keeping with their deep-down like-mindedness—and desire for perpetual youth—all three are heard obsessively playing Asher Roth’s “I Love College.”)
The guys break up all the time, of course. Apart from smoking, drinking, fucking around at work, and making ineptly sexist remarks to very uninterested women, getting into conflict because of their hair-trigger whims forms the plot of a lot of episodes. Here, that very ordinariness should work against the “last show ever” vibe, but Workaholics has never really been about learning or growing. Which isn’t a criticism, as the guys’ combined efforts to stave off adulthood and responsibility are the core of their charm. Still, the series has shone in the past when at least glimmers of self-reflection have crept in to the guys’ chaotic slothfulness, and, while there are snatches of that in “Party Gawds,” there’s precious little interest here in making any profound examination of the guys’ existence. Waymond, of all people, tries to pull the guys back together once they slink back to TelAmeriCorp, pleading with his longtime tormentors, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” They dismiss both his message and the fact that the perpetually silent Waymond is talking so eloquently (“Freaking motormouth,” joshes Adam), but, as they always do, they recognize that their bond is not only strong, but all they’ve really got.
The conflict of their indebtedness to Bango! is resolved with a handwave, as Fossil’s incredulous, “You’re gonna give up the ultimate gig of ‘party gawds’ for weekend warrior wannabes?” is met with a simple “We wanna go back to when we were friends only” from Ders. United in their desire to simply be friends again, the guys stand firm, and Kurt just shrugs—although he does produce a Bango! Blake wig, which the guys urge Blake to put over his bald(-capped) head. “I mean, you’re not that good-looking with it,” explains Adam about Blake’s hair, “but…”
Workaholics ends on the roof, the guys sharing beers from the cooler, and what Blake (spiking the camera) assures Adam is real weed. There are a few other winks at us as the camera slowly pulls back in the cool Rancho air, with Adam DeMamp confessing that he’s learned not to be “such an egomaniac,” a humility Adam DeVine’s shtick could use a bit more of. “I love you guys,” says Blake, earnestly, “Real talk—The most important thing is we stay true to each other,” while, in the last line of Workaholics proper, Adam perks up, blurting, “We should have a TV show or something!” It’s nice, the thought echoed by the customary “Nice!” in the show’s post-episode credits card.
In the last analysis (which this is), Workaholics doesn’t go in for a big summation, which makes sense. The underlying tension between the guys’ desire to stay ballers forever and the fact that they’re well into their 30s will go unexplored further. The show took two of the previous three episodes to say goodbye to its supporting cast at TelAmeriCorp (and to Karl) most satisfactorily. Watching the last scene, I was put in mind of Mike and the ’bots—back on Earth—still sitting down to make fun of bad movies, or of the Stranger—speaking of the Dude’s coming progeny—saying “I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.” The guys abide, sharing a joint on the roof, declaring their love for each other, they go out on top. Not of TV history, ratings, or critical acclaim (sorry), but of that shambles of a house, staring out over the scene of their usually quite entertaining seven years of amiable nonsense. I do, in fact, take comfort in that.
- And that’s a wrap on Workaholics, and the A.V. Club’s reviews thereof. Sorry we missed those four episodes, but here’s my mini-review of each:
- “The Most Dangerless Game”: Big, broad, and silly, with able guest antagonists (who turn out to be nice guys) Thomas F. Wilson and Cary Elwes. It’s always been a problem of character consistency on Workaholics, with Adam here being even dumber than usual, and Ders and Blake uniting in agreement on that. Still, the gradual reveal of the Surviving The Game reference was clever. As is the reveal that the “environmental film” Ders and Blake have been so superior about having watched is San Andreas. Grade: B-
- “Tactona 420”: Some fine workplace goofing about, as the guys’ desire to win the elaborate warehouse remote control car race leads to some energetic silliness. Points for one last appearance of Jillian Bell’s Jillian (who spends the episode trying to get the poor cleaning lady’s blood out of her blouse with a bleach pen). And has anyone made a GIF of Blake screaming “Nipples!” yet? If not, I’ll be very disappointed in you all. Grade: B+
- “TermiDate”: Ugh, this flashback episode to the guys’ one, very ill-fated appearance on a dating reality show indulges the worst aspects of the guys’ (and the actors’) shticks, with “funny guy” Blake’s obnoxiousness vying with Adam’s desperate need to be friends with never-before-mentioned fourth roomie Skyler, and Ders’ ugly misogyny for “most unpleasant to watch.” Projectile barf, a cruel death gag (Skyler, you were too good for this world), and the guys acting like actual assholes, rather than loveable assholes. Grade: C-
- “Bianca Toro”: The final bow of the always entertaining Alice (played, as ever, by the great Maribeth Monroe), as a motivational speaker makes Alice question her life choices, makes Adam think he can walk on hot coals, and makes Blake and Ders smash up Alice’s office to bring things back to the mind-numbing but comfortable status quo. Monroe’s always been great at deforming her attractive visage into a mask of tortured agony as she tries to make peace with her lot in life, and she really nails Alice’s despair here, crying out, “We have been stuck here for years! Isn’t it time we moved on?” Ders tries to restate the rightness of Workaholics world by exclaiming, “We’re not all wonders with untapped potential. We’re losers who’re exactly where we’re supposed to be,” but it’s only the fact that Alice’s motivational mentor (guest star Mo Collins) turns out to be a fake that pulls her back into TelAmeriCorp’s fluorescent hell. Points off for blatantly aping The Office’s workplace awards show and coal-walking bits, but a fine goodbye to the worst job on Earth. Grade: B+
- Favorite episodes of the ones I’ve reviewed: “Menergy Crisis,” “Gayborhood” (aired back-to-back, oddly). Least favorite: “Best Buds,” “Friendship Anniversary.”
- And that’s that, gang. I appreciate you reading these reviews all these years, and to the Powers That Be at the A.V. Club for letting me come back to finish the show off with you all. It’s been a pleasure and an honor.