The League, Season 1

Perhaps the husband-and-wife team who wrote the first season of this magnificent little comedy took a page from the British School of Comedy Writing and limited themselves to six episodes. Or perhaps they didn’t want to overdo it, and distilled the magic into three short hours of laughs. Or perhaps they ran out of material.

The latter one probably isn’t true, but even if it is, I don’t care. The League made me laugh harder than any other comedy on TV last season, and when I went back to revisit the freshman season that started it all, I was not disappointed. I learned about vaginal hubris, the bounce test, Mr. McGibblets, and a bunch of other super inside-jokey things that won’t make sense to anyone unless they watch the show. But trust me when I say that it’s worth watching. You want to be in on these jokes.

The League isn’t particularly profound, nor are any of the characters particularly likable guys. In fact, they’re all incredibly selfish friends from high school. They do stick up for each other when they have to (i.e. during a divorce, when their children are ill, that sort of thing), but mostly they just take pleasure in each other’s pain, embarrassment, and loss, so long as all of those things are trivial matters. Why is this fun to watch? BECAUSE IT’S HOW GUYS ACTUALLY ARE.

I’m not a guy, but I have a lot of guy friends. And those guy friends eerily resemble the guy friends on The League. They have their own demented vocabulary, they simultaneously act as each others’ wing men while trying to sabotage their chances of getting laid, they buy each other beers, they eat disgusting food, and they generally turn any mundane situation into a rip-roaring great time. It’s never a dull moment with any of them, fictional or not.

It also helps that all the stars of this show are comedians. Paul Scheer is perfect as Andre, the Ed Hardy-wearing, semi-naive plastic surgeon. Steve Rannazzisi is surprisingly convincing as Kevin, the man in front of his wife Jenny’s team (and the father of a tomboyish little girl). Mark Duplass is Pete, the recently divorced partial man-child and possibly the only sane person in the group of friends. Jon LaJoie is Taco, whose name pretty much describes everything about him. And my favorite, of course, is Nick Kroll as Ruxin, the ordinary-looking dude with a comeback for everything and a wife who is way too hot for him. These are the men of The League. They will warm your heart, they will make you cry, and they will probably convince you to join a fantasy football league even if you know nothing about the NFL.

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