The League [FX, Thursdays, 10:30/9:30C] is a show about six members of a fantasy football league – in the same sense that a hurricane is about wind. These people are dedicated to winning – and not particularly scrupulous about how they do so.
The members of this particular league [at least, the ones we see] – Pete [Mark Duplass], frequent winner of the Shiva Bowl – and divorced because of it; Andre [Paul Scheer], butt of the most jokes – and last season’s winner; Ruxin [Nick Kroll], the most successful member of the league in the real world; Kevin [Steve Rannazzisi] and Jenny [Katie Aselton], married – and she was the brains behind his team, but wants to go solo this season], and Taco [Jon Lajoie, the usually baked member of the league who has all the luck with the women and even won the league once, if only he could remember it – aren’t the most likable people in the world. Their lack of scruples and single-mindedness, generally speaking, leads to behavior that even fantasy league players would deem extreme – well, except for Taco, who is charming and fun to be around, but whether that’s because he’s a nice guy or just mellow when he’s stoned [which is most of the time] isn’t easy to tell.
The second season opens with Vegas Draft. Reigning champion Andre has decided to hold the league’s 2010 draft in Las Vegas. Somehow, he’s even managed to persuade Chad Ochocinco to help with the festivities. While the draft is hilarious, there are other hijinx in the so-called real world to add to the proceedings – and the decision on who will fill a vacancy in the league’s membership [the news isn’t good for Jenny and, thus, not good for Kevin…].
I have a problem with shows that are populated with reprehensible characters [It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm] and most of the characters in The League verge on that peculiar state of being. From things I’d read, it seemed like The League was likely to be one of those shows. Then, in preparation for the Q&A session with the show’s creators, Jeff and Jackie Schaffer, FX sent me screeners of the first season and the first eps of season two.
While I can’t say that I love the show, the first season did make me laugh, and Vegas Draft and Bro-Lo El Cunado start off the thirteen-ep second season with a certain panache. Since the series looks at how participating in fantasy football league affects the lives of its members, it’s interesting to see them in Vegas because no matter how odd people are in their day-to-day lives, their behavior tends to be magnified in Sin City.
If you’ve followed the show’s first season, let me just say that you ain’t seen nuthin yet. The collection of comedic talent involved in creating, producing and acting in The League results in fast-paced, mini-movies that show both sides of the fantasy football league equation: how the character normally behave and how they behave where the league is involved – and how the extremity of behaviors in the context of the league bleed over [maybe flood over is the better expression, here] and the ensuing chaos caused.
I’m not sure that the eps I’ve seen would compel me to watch every episode – I love the Canadian Football League and have never taken part in anything even resembling a fantasy football league – but I do believe that I will check in on this league from time-to-time. Why? Because these folks go to lengths that are as beyond the average fantasy league as the abovementioned hurricane if beyond a cool breeze. And it doesn’t hurt that The League is partly improvised, which gives it an unpredictable edge.
Final Grade: B