Th League is a half-hour comedy about friendship, marriage, parenting, suburbia, and groping up – or refusing to grow up – that revolves around a circle of friends immersed in a fantasy football league. The show features an ensemble cast of rising actors/comedians. Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair) plays “Pete,” the perennial league champ struggling with maturity. Stephen Rannazzisi (Samantha Who?) is “Kevin.” a successful assistant district attorney and happily married father who also covets the elusive League trophy. Nick Kroll (I Love You, Man) plays “Ruxin,” never a winner in fantasy, but has no doubt he is the smartest of the group. Paul Scheer (30 Rock) plays “Andre,” the long-standing punching bag of the group as well as its most successful member. Jon Lajoie (Everyday Normal Crew ) is “Taco,” Kevin’s little brother, who is a part-time musician and full-time stoner with little interest in fantasy other than hanging with his buddies (who he struggles to remember). Katie Aselton (The Office) plays “Jenny,” Kevin’s wife and his (secret) better half in the fantasy league.
Head on over the jump for a few of my thoughts on the show’s first two episodes.
Episode 1: “The Draft”
The League is starting up again and the guys are preparing for the big draft at Andre’s downtown bachelor pad. Except Pete – the League’s current champion and three time winner – who has to deal with the fact that his wife thought he wasn’t going to play this year.
Episode 2: “The Bounce Test”
Pete’s split with Meegan has sent ripples of consequence through this tight-knit group. While Ruxin tries to reunite them for his own selfish reasons, Jenny isn’t as concerned: she knows her husband will never leave her because of her confidence in a very private body part.
I recently screened the first two episodes of The League, and I can say that although I didn’t come away fully impressed, I found it mostly enjoyable. The pilot episode was fairly successful at introducing the entire cast and is effective in setting up the basic premise of the show: peeking into the lives of a group of friends who compete in an NFL fantasy league.
I enjoyed the pilot over the second episode, but saw elements in the second episode that I enjoyed. I just need to see more of the show and am not quite sold that this is a premise that can be sustained long term. As expected for a FX series, the comedy is a bit on the naughty side, but it’s not too extreme and there are some stand-out moments in the two episodes (particularly a musical number by Taco, played by Jon Lajoie).
Ultimately, I’d say that although there’s room for improvement — but when isn’t that a case in a new series? — it’s still worth at least a sampling. So give it a chance tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET on FX after a brand new episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Some images and video are included below.