Just how last Thursday marked the beginning of the NFL season, this Thursday is the debut of another long-awaited return that focuses on the pigskin. Of course the show I’m referring to is FXs The League.
Football fans waited a grueling 7 months for the NFL to begin, but we’ve been waiting an even longer 9 months for The League to resume. For the most part, Jersey Shore aside, Thursdays at 10:30 have been relegated to channel surfing, hoping to find a decent re-run of Seinfeld, Family Guy or Always Sunny in Philadelphia to hold me over until The Daily Show starts. However, I do all I can to skip over Bravo because watching The Real Housewives of DC , even if only for a minute, is like reading the story of Billy Mumphrey in your neighbor’s apartment that’s filled with toxic gas.
One of the best parts of The League is how it emulates the life of its target audience, that golden demographic of 18-34 year olds. There aren’t many shows that successfully pull this off.
Friends had 6 people living in New York with the combined income of $100,000 (two of whom didn’t have steady jobs at all for a long time and another who occasionally gave someone a massage), yet all had great places to live and never seemed at a loss for money other than one episode where it was an issue. Entourage is a story of 4 friends that remain loyal to each other but one is a movie star – not likely unless you graduated from West Beverly High. How I Met Your Mother shows a married couple not breaking stride with their single friends and keeping the exact same social life after their nuptials. Plus they tolerate Ted. Talk about a stretch.
The League focuses on a group of friends who play in a fantasy football league together. Just like most leagues, some of the guys are married, some are single, some have money, some hate their jobs, and so on. The common denominator is they all love football and talking as much trash to, and about each other, as possible. One of the better parts in The League is one guy gets taken to the wood shed by his wife over his football moves. Going back to How I Met Your Mother, Lilly wishes she was that cool, and probably so does Marshall.
The only real flaw I see in The League compared to my group of friends and our fantasy leagues is the number of people in it, but the show can’t have 10 main characters. They don’t live with Coach Lubbock after all.
While the show focuses on fantasy football, it also focuses on the lives on these guys. If a woman wants to see what living with a guy who plays fantasy football is like, she just needs to watch The League. Then figure out which one she is dating. To make it easier on the female readers out there, here is a little info on each of the main characters.
Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) is married, has a kid and is in a way like a younger Phil Dunphy – the husband every guy strives to be. His team is secretly co-managed by his wife Jenny, a woman who takes being cool to a whole other level by looking the other way on some of Kevin’s actions, like watching porn on the treadmill.
Pete (Mark Duplass) is divorced, does pretty well with the ladies and even better in the fantasy league as a multiple time winner. He’s a pretty normal guy. He’s quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke, but it always seems that there’s someplace that he’d rather be (like trying to trade rape his league mates).
Taco (Jon Lajoie) is like Kramer – he comes and goes without any real direction, mooches off his friends, you don’t really know what he does for money and yet he seems to always land on his feet. Or in bed with someone. He’s quite the cad. But when it comes right down to it, he’s a just a regular everyday normal guy.
Andre (Paul Scheer) is a plastic surgeon who moonlights as the doormat for his friends’ jokes. He gets made fun of the most and takes it without any sort of incident, just a lot of whining. Imagine Jon Cryer’s character from Two and Half Men, but funny. Andre got the last laugh when he took home what all the guys wanted, Shiva - the beautiful girl they went to high school with. Oh yeah, he won the league title too.
Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is the alpha male of the group. He hates being married, seems to hate his job which he’ll use to wield influence in any way possible and dishes out the most abusive comments about his friends. He’ll lie to his friends’ face and use questionable tactics to get ahead in the standings, like visiting a nine year old after dark for fantasy advice.
As we all know, playing fantasy football requires no skill, talent or real knowledge of the game. Anyone who recommended playing Jerome Harrison or sitting Hakeem Nicks this past weekend is proof of that. I even wrote about how luck-based fantasy football is here.
However, writing a show about fantasy football, and getting people to actually laugh during it, takes talent, humor and skill. It isn’t lucky at all. The only lucky ones are us, the viewers, that The League is back for another season.