Watching “The League” requires a heavy tolerance for crude and coarse behavior. So, if finger-banging and smoking pubes to get high don’t sound particularly scary to you, make some time to catch “The League.” You’ll laugh away your self respect — and it will feel great.

“The League”

Thursdays at 10:30 p.m.
FX

The general premise of the show is almost alarmingly off-putting, at least for those who aren’t big fans of fantasy football. “The League” begins in the days preceding five best friends’ yearly fantasy football league season when they’re preparing to fight it out for the championship.

One admittedly unimpressive aspect of “The League” is that each character adheres to a token stereotype: Taco (newcomer Jonathan Lajoie) is the failed guitarist and stoner, Andre (Paul Scheer, “Parks and Recreation”) is the nerdy rich guy, Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi, “Samantha Who?”) is the father, Pete (Mark Duplass, “True Adolescents”) is the commitophobe and Ruxin (Nick Kroll, “I Love You Man”) is the Jewish lawyer. The characters are clearly made to fit into nice little categories because — let’s be honest — the average TV watcher is used to this.

Most of the hijinks ensue as the friends make half-assed attempts (mostly culminating in failure) to fit their careers, children, wives and girlfriends into their fantasy football-driven lives. It’s sad, but for the most part hilarious. A daughter’s birthday-party sack race morphs into a betting game — with some parents even betting against their own children — for first draft picks. The list of strange antics continues, becoming more ridiculous (and hilarious) as the show progresses.

The characters are perfectly crafted to lull audiences into a false sense of security before smacking them across the face with banter about “mental erections” and feeding a five-year-old kid a cookie for calling her mom a whore. And, thankfully, it’s not necessary to know anything about football to enjoy “The League.” Fantasy football is really a secondary point on the show, present only as a device around which the five guys can congregate loudly in all their obscene splendor.

Thank god “The League” is on later at night, because the corrupting power of this half-hour show is astounding. There’s definitely a reason a warning pops up after every commercial to remind audiences that they are, once again, in for some material akin to verbal pornography. Sadly, while this vulgarity was exhaustingly funny during most of the pilot, “The League” began to border on dumb near the end, slipping from humorously lewd to distasteful and disgusting. There are moments when the writers take this crassness just a bit too far, and they should pull back — it bears reconsidering whether “rubbing dongs” is actually funny or simply stupid. Also, the implied joke about pedophilia and the child oracle of fantasy football falls short.

All in all, “The League” isn’t going to up anyone’s IQ, and children exposed to it will require a solid mouth-bleaching to return them to their prior cleanliness. Still, the show is often funny to the point of rib-cracking, and “The League” is unquestionably worth your half hour.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.