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The Time:
Thursdays, 10:30 PM, FX

The Show:

A show about five friends who take nothing in their lives more seriously than their fantasy football league, The League is an acerbic exercise in juvenile humor, deception, one-upsmanship and a win-at-all-costs mentality
The protagonists are Pete, who essentially sacrificed his marriage for
the league; Kevin, a district attorney who needs help from his wife,
Jenny; Nick, a defense lawyer who will sell out a busload of his family
to win; Taco, an inveterate stoner, slacker and Kevin’s brother; and
Andre, a rich plastic surgeon who’s naivete makes him the easiest
target for the others, both in the league and in life.  To
these four, plus occasionally Taco, life consists of Xs and Os on an
imaginary gridiron; and manipulating them – and each other – for their
own benefit is the only way to score.

The Stars:

- Mark Duplass as Pete Eckhart
- Nick Kroll as Ruxin
- Jon Lajoie as Taco McArthur
- Stephen Rannazzisi as Kevin McArthur
- Paul Scheer as Andre
- Katie Aselton as Jenny McArthur
- Leslie Bibb as Meegan
- Nadine Velazquez as Sophia
- Alina Foley as Elli

The Episodes:Vegas Draft” and “Bro-Lo El Cunado”

In
“Vegas Draft”, the league members journey to Las Vegas to conduct their
draft for the upcoming season in style.  Andre takes every
opportunity to rub the fact that he is defending league champion in his
buddies’ faces, including altering the prized Shiva trophy in his own
image. Kevin and Pete engage in an NFL word association game of which
they’re determined to keep the others from knowing the rules. 
Ruxin is finding his fantasy draft highly arousing, and Taco is glad to
be there…whenever he realizes where he is.  An invitation to
Chad Ochocinco to host the festivities spices things up, but an
unexpected visit from Jenny makes things uncomfortable for Kevin; and
an equally unexpected appearance from Ruxin’s nimrod brother-in-law,
Rafi, makes things uncomfortable for everyone.





In
“Bro-Lo El Cunado”, the guys continue to lament Rafi’s inclusion in the
league and Ruxin’s including him in their activities.  Kevin
has to try to smooth things over with Jenny since they didn’t vote her
into the league, which leads to an upscale date at a work-related
event.  Kevin also has another issue with Taco dating his hot
colleague.  Meanwhile, Pete and Andre get stuck with Rafi at a
party and an attempt to get rid of him leads to a trade for Matt Forte
that Ruxin picks up while entertaining his wife in a bit of
kinkiness.  But the mood is ruined when Pete and Andre show up
at a very inopportune moment to force Ruxin to drop the
trade. 





The Lowdown:

The League
is a gas.  The show is rife with smart writing and improv that
centers on the friends’ infighting, backstabbing, frequent denigration,
dirty dealing and copious football allusion.  Co-creator, Jeff
Schaffer, who worked on both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, brings a few sensibilities from both of shows to this one.  At times The League echoes those shows, Swingers and Entourage.  Schaffer, along with wife, Jackie Marcus Schaffer, (producer, Disturbia), have created a show that should easily appeal to both sports fans and comedy fans. 

A
true ensemble, the actors all pull equal work in the laughs and their
characters all have something unique to offer.  Stephen
Rannazzisi’s Kevin is probably the closest thing to the straight man of
the group.  Although he’s the commissioner of the league,
Kevin nonetheless has to rely on his knowledgeable wife, Jenny, in
order to compete.  When she wants a more active role in the
league in Season 2, this presents problems for him because the league
is his thing and he wants to keep it that way.  An attempt to
appease Jenny with a “grown-up” weekend getaway at a hotel without
their daughter doesn’t turn out well, though, when he actually drinks
Jenny’s heirloom diamond earrings. 





Kevin
does make use of his position as league commissioner, though, by coming
up with inventive ways to determine the draft order among the
group.  In Season 1, it involved betting on the outcome of a
kids’ potato sack race (he didn’t bet on his own daughter because she’s
slow).  In Season 2’s “Vegas Draft”, it involves a mad
scramble through airport security.  He uses a mysterious gift
package to sabotage one of the other players.

Mark
Duplass’ Pete is the three-time former league champion who is recently
separated from his wife.  Pete is usually closest with Kevin,
but he can roll with any of the league members in their various
situations.  He’s not above the general sabotaging of other
players when the opportunity presents itself, and he’s one of the
better players and most knowledgeable about football, which he’ll also
use to his advantage. 





Paul
Scheer’s Andre is the smug, but desperately unhip member of the
group.  He frequently vies with Ruxin for biggest douche of
the league.  The fact that he managed to become champion at
the end of Season 1 makes him all the more insufferable. 
Andre is the frequent butt of jokes within the group, which include a
joke about his teeth (that the semen leaves them stained); and prior
instances where they conned him into getting a tattoo of Pete on his
back and smoking a joint of pubic hair.  He’s a rich plastic
surgeon and makes good use of his wealth, even bringing in Chad
Ochocinco and footing the bill on much of the Vegas trip in the Season
2 premiere.  He also caught hell from the guys because he
started dating Shiva, the valedictorian of their high school for whom
the league trophy is named. 





His
attempt to keep that secret from the others met with failure, and Pete
let him have it by scheduling an appointment with Shiva, a urologist,
to give his junk an examination.  When Andre crashed the
appointment, Pete took every opportunity to rub it in his face as Shiva
checked him over.   An excursion with another fantasy
league where he was the coolest of the bunch, rather than the
uncoolest, also met with scorn from the others.  If there’s a
chance to get screwed over, generally it’s going to be him, although he
is as apt to partake in backstabbing as any of the others.  He
also had an unfortunate proctological incident with the league trophy.





Nick Kroll’s Ruxin is a successful defense attorney and an occasional
douche.  He’s as competitive as Pete, but he doesn’t have Pete’s
knowledge of football.  He’s happily married to Sophia (the
ridiculously hot Nadine Velasquez) and the father of a newborn.  But at
any moment, like when he’s set to pleasure his wife on her “Terrific
Lady Day”, an instance where he caters to her every whim without
complaint, he’ll bend the situation to his advantage in order to make
power moves within the league.  Of course, Pete and Andre don’t let him
get away with it.  In Season 2, Ruxin is pushing Sophia’s brother, the
half-witted Rafi, into the league and onto his friends in order to get
over with Sophia.  The others have named Rafi “El Cunado”, a derogatory
take on the term which simply means brother-in-law.  Rafi stinks, is
crass and an annoyance; but as long as Ruxin can pawn him off on the
others, which he does at every possible turn, he has no problem with
that.





Jon
LaJoie’s Taco is the stereotypical underachiever, free-spirit and
stoner.  He frequently mooches off of Kevin and meanders
through life and the league.  He’s less concerned with his
standing in the league than he is with having his next good time, which
usually includes getting laid.  One of his lady friends is
Kevin’s coworkers, with whom he’s competitive.  Taco can
usually be counted upon to go with the flow, or engage in hair-brained
schemes.  One of these includes an instance in Season 1 where
Kevin asked Taco to dress up in a Mr. McGibblets costume, a “Tickle Me
Elmo” type animatronic stuffed animal that was driving Kevin crazy
because his daughter played with it all the time.  A supposed
attempt to use Taco in the costume to scare her in her room at night
backfired and ended up turning into a crime spree as Taco had to steal
Kevin’s things to appease Elli.  That’s just one example of
Taco being an inept but dutiful uncle to his niece.  Another
is when he wrote a sexually explicit birthday song for her and sang it
at her birthday party.





Katie
Aselton is Jenny, Kevin’s beautiful and football-wise wife. 
She not only puts up with all the league shenanigans, but is frequently
in on them.  If it weren’t for Jenny, Kevin wouldn’t have a
prayer of competing.  When Jenny gets rebuffed for league
membership in favor of the odious Rafi, even by Kevin, he has some
making up to do to her. 

The League
cast are all accomplished performers outside of the show, including
directing, writing, producing, music and stand up comedy.  The
loose writing structure of the show allows them the room to bring a lot
of that experience to their characters.  Mark Duplass is a
writer, producer and director, experienced in mumblecore.  He
co-wrote and co-directed 2005’s The Puffy Chair, with brother Jay Duplass, which screened at Sundance and won the audience award at that year’s SXSW Festival. 

Nick Kroll is a comedian and author (Bar Mitzvah Disco).  He also co-stars on both Childrens Hospital and The Life & Times of Tim.  He was a contributing writer on Chappelle’s Show and has performed stand up on Comedy Central on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show.  Jon LaJoie is a musician and comedian and has done several music videos and appeared on an episode of Comedy Central Presents that premiered in March.  Paul Scheer is a comedian who created and performed on the sketch series Human Giant,
on which Nick Kroll was also a contributing writer.  Aselton
and Duplass are husband and wife; and they’ve collaborated on Aselton’s
first feature that she wrote and directed, The Freebie.  You can catch the trailer here.

The League
had a raucous six-episode Season 1; and Season 2 picks right up where
the previous one left off.  In fact, “Vegas Draft” is possibly
the best episode to date, and the biggest, with location shooting in
Sin City and the guest spot by Chad Ochocinco.  “Bro-Lo El
Cunado” is a more regular episode, but a no less entertaining
one.  The League is a lot of fun and it returns to FX on Thursdays at 10:30 PM starting this Thursday, Sept. 16th.