The Bottom Line
- Stars Jim Jefferies, Dan Bakkedahl, DJ Qualls
- Created by Jim Jefferies and Peter O’Fallon
- Airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. EST starting January 17, 2013, on FX
At first, Legit seems like it might be another tiresome showbiz comedy, as Jefferies’ character is a struggling comedian living in Los Angeles and hoping to make it big (in real life Jefferies is an internationally successful comedian). But the show’s first three episodes have virtually nothing to do with Jim’s career, and unlike Louie (in which Louis C.K. similarly plays a less successful version of himself), Legit doesn’t feature any stand-up comedy at all. Instead it’s really about the relationship among Jim, his best friend and roommate Steve (comedian and former The Daily Show correspondent Dan Bakkedahl) and Steve’s disabled brother Billy (DJ Qualls), who suffers from muscular dystrophy and holds up the uncouth Jim as his personal idol.
In the first episode, Jim and Steve take Billy from the assisted-living facility where he’s been staying to a brothel outside Las Vegas and get him laid for the first time. It’s a surprisingly sweet yet never cloying portrait of the struggles of people with disabilities (Billy is essentially paralyzed below the neck and confined to a wheelchair), like a raunchier version of recent indie movie The Sessions. Jim is often inconsiderate and irresponsible, but his intentions toward Billy are honorable, and the show does a good job of mixing Jefferies’ envelope-pushing jokes (some of which sound a little too much like they were lifted right from his stand-up act) with a layered, sensitive story about not treating disabled people like helpless children.
The problem is that the next two episodes basically repeat that same formula, only less successfully. In the second episode, Jim and Steve break Billy out of the care facility in the middle of the night and end up taking him on as a permanent roommate, and both the second and third episodes involve Jim’s efforts to get Billy laid. The relationship between Jim and Billy is unique for TV, but it’s also a little limiting, and the show feels too insular and repetitive by the end of the third episode. The balance between gross-out humor and genuine emotion is also a tough one to maintain, and the sentiment, while refreshing, is sometimes overdone.
Still, Legit is a different kind of show for FX (despite its resemblances to Wilfred and Louie), and there are enough funny lines and tender moments to make it worth keeping an eye on. The three leads are all appealing (Qualls gives an impressive performance in a difficult role), and the premise could easily open up with the addition of a few more supporting characters or new locations. Even more than dramas, comedies often take a while to find their footing, and Legit has the potential to go somewhere unique.