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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:The White Knuckler”, “The Kluenberg” and “The Marathon”.  “The White Knuckler” features Pete trying to deal with too much information that he receives from Brooke (Lake Bell), an ex of Kevin’s, when she tells him that she remembers him having a pretty penis.  Ruxin is manipulating the final wish of a sick kid in order to meet Josh Cribbs so he can get him to have an outstanding game.  Dre is looking to merge his plastic surgery practice with that of a prominent black doctor, but his pitiful level of racial insensitivity and ignorance may doom him from the outset.  And Taco is studying the martial art of the naginata, although he mispronounces it “naginta”, which will have bad consequences for Dre in front of his new black friends.

“The Kluenberg” centers on the league members looking for a way to get rid of Rafi, the El Cunado (John Mantzoukas), Ruxin’s ridiculously crass and stupid brother-in-law.  Their solution is to stage a fake fight and a fake break-up of the league.  But some legit cross words between Dre and Pete threaten to break up the league for real.  Taco goes dumpster diving and comes up with a toilet seat that is made of cocaine, which leads to his being addicted to sitting on it.  Kevin has to deal with his insecurity about Jenny, who was not allowed to join the league in favor of Rafi, joining the league of Russell (Rob Huebel), a friend and sex addict.  And Dre catches hell from the rest of the league when he buys a piece of art (The titular Kluenberg) that looks like a six-year-old-drawn “penis bird flying into ass mountain” for $25,000.

“The Marathon” has Dre training for the Chicago Marathon.  But no one takes him seriously, because it’s merely the latest in a long line of his exercise fads, including treadmill, cardio tennis and stripper pole aerobics.  Pete also “trains” for the marathon in order to impress a hot waitress.  Taco becomes a notary outlaw, notarizing anything and everything.  This is good news for Ruxin, who refuses to support a fat colleague who is the firm’s notary and who demands donations for her marathon efforts for charity.  And now that Jenny is in the league, Kevin has issues with separating their sex life from their competitive life.

The Lowdown:

I’m still really enjoying this season and the show in general.  There really hasn’t been a bad episode in the series’ run to date, and these are three solid and funny episodes.  The improvisational nature of the show gives it that Curb Your Enthusiasm and/or Seinfeld vibe and you don’t even need to be a football fan to appreciate the show, although it does help. 

Watching the show almost leads the viewer to wonder why these five are friends, because they enjoy themselves the most when they’re screwing with, screwing up and screwing over each other.  Dre gets the brunt of the gags and verbal jabs against him, but he brings it upon himself with his terminal unhipness and self delusion.  In “Whiter Knuckler”, he makes nearly every verbal gaff when trying to woo the black plastic surgeon into a merger, such as saying he hates diversity, because it would be racist, he’s had black friends, and hosting a White Party ala Diddy, and having a sign saying “Whites [clothes] Only.”  Having Taco singing a song about the “nig-ginta” may not have been his fault, but it was, because he invited him to the party. 

In “The Kluenberg,” he’s painfully unaware that buying the painting that looks like something out of the Ambiguously Gay Duo is in fact painting a target on his back for the others.  And the videos of his prior workout fads, complete with bad wardrobe, hair and mustache choices in “The Marathon” were priceless.  There’s a great rib he gets when wearing a jump suit that someone says makes him look like “the fifth member of Color Me Badd.”
Jon LaJoie could be described as the Kramer of the group, and he’s fun in the role.  Although Taco is little more than a typical dimwitted stoner, Lajoie nevertheless infuses him with a palpable likability.  His background as a comedic musician also gives the show a Jimmy Fallon-style dimension.

Stephen Rannazzisi’s Kevin is the closest thing to a straight man on the show.  But when he finds out that Pete has an aversion to him since learning that he has a “pretty cock,” he’s quick to play it up to comedic effect.  His pretty cock has an unfortunate and painful run-in with the naginata in “White Knuckler” and he’s great in his reaction (he gets Brooke to apply pressure to it, much to Pete’s dismay and thus his delight.  Nick Kroll’s Ruxin is the biggest opportunist and schemer on the show as Ruxin, and also generally the biggest asshole.  In that, he frequently echoes Costanza the most of the group. 

Duplass’ Pete is sort of the “chameleon” of the group, able to swing from being a slacker, to an asshole to an opportunist to a straight man and anything else required.  His best work usually comes across with Kevin and the whole “pretty cock” scenario was a gas.  Aselton is a sexy and fun supporting character on the show as Jenny.  Any woman who looks like her and has that much football knowledge is an instant turn on.  John Mantzoukas also had a few memorable turns as Rafi.

The gags, dialogue and the situations on the show are entertaining week in and week out.  I definitely recommend catching The League if you’re not. 

“The White Knuckler”: 8.0 out of 10
“The Kluenberg”: 8.3 out of 10
“The Marathon”: 7.5 out of 10