So far in our Shows You Aren’t Watching But Should column we have talked about Magic City and The LA Complex. Both are shows that you are not likely watching, but you should make an effort to check out. Today lets take a look at a comedy you should be watching…
When you think of the FX Network and comedies your mind may flash to the likes of signature programs It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia and the multiple Emmy Award winning Louie, but the show that you really should be thinking about is the underrated comedy The League. The series features what I consider the strongest comedy ensemble on TV with Nick Kroll, Mark Duplass (one half of the Duplass Brothers, the guys behind The Puffy Chair, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and Baghead), Paul Scheer, Stephen Rannazzisi, Jon Lajoe, and Katie Aselton. This cast delivers the laughs every single episode without missing a beat.
The show is the brainchild of Husband & Wife duo Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, graduates of the Curb Your Enthusiasm school of comedy (literally and figuratively as they both worked on the show). The basic premise of the series is that it follows the members of a fantasy football league who take the league more seriously then anything else in their lives. It is a simple concept at its core but like great comedies before it, it exploits it to its max. From episodes that include riffs on the recent NFL lockout, sex, pornography, and even children’s toys, this is a show that is not afraid to get down and dirty — in fact, it gets dirtier then It’s Always Sunny, which has not shyed away from getting some seriously shameless laughs.
What elevates the material is the cast and their knack for improvisational comedy. All of them are masters of the craft and it shows. You can tell from watching that this cast is tighter then the regular cast of a typical TV show. They’re a group of people who clearly like to hang out on and off set. From the crude nicknames to the hilarious insults that are thrown at each other. This is show is underrated and I believe I know why. It’s because some people shy away from it because of the football nature of the show. “If you do not know football you will not ‘get’ this show” — those people think. I can say from personal experience, and as a fan of the show, that this is not the case. You do not need to have an extensive knowledge of football to enjoy this show. The football detailing is a minor part of the show and it will not deteriorate your viewing experience if, like me, you know zilch about the sport (I’m a hockey fan and participate in a couple of hockey fantasy leagues).
The characters in the show are absolutely hysterical in there own right and could really hold their own show if they wanted too. Nick Kroll steals the show as the cruel Ruxin, a lawyer who is not above hurling awful insults in his ongoing efforts to win the league. There is also Paul Scheer’s Dr. Andre, a man with horrible taste but a lot of pride, and of course Jon Lajoe’s stoner character Taco, an aspiring musician and crappy businessman who is baked every time he is on screen. Aselton, Duplass, and Rannazzisi round out the cast as normal characters, who again, serve out the insults better then they take.
The show has been able to snag some quality guest stars in its so far in its three season run, including Jeff Goldblum as Ruxin’s father, Sarah Silverman as Andre’s sister, and Ray Liotta as Ruxin’s boss. It is a show that is attracting talent and managing to get renewed despite lacking the eyeballs it really, truly deserves to have. I personally put this show up there with the best TV comedies airing right now. It is a stronger comedy then Parks & Recreation, Two & A Half Men, and 30 Rock at their prime.
If you want to settle in for a good laugh you need to seriously start watching this show. Seriously. Sure it is not a supernatural drama with huge effect, but it will cause you to laugh until you lose your breath. And that is a guarantee I can happily make for it. It deserves your eyes and you deserve to enjoy its laughs. The League‘s fourth season premieres on October 11th at 10:30pm on FX Network.