The Bottom Line
- A little more low-key than FX's other stabs at original comedy
- A potentially strong cast, and some promising guest stars
- A premise that could provide for eventual character development
- Painfully unfunny, on-the-nose humor
- Irritating, one-dimensional characters
- Outdated gender-stereotype humor
- First two episodes air October 29 and November 5, 2009, at 10:30 p.m. EST on FX
- Stars Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Jon Lajoie, Katie Aselton
- Created by Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer
Guide Review - 'The League' Premiere Episodes
FX has been trying for years to find a compatible comedy to pair with the successful It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and while The League isn’t quite as bad as Testees or Starved, it’s still another failure overall. The show revolves around a group of guy friends who run a fantasy football league, an increasingly popular pastime that’s clearly ripe for exploring as the topic of a TV show. But the league is just a jumping-off point for a lot of tired riffs about guys not getting enough sex from their wives, or being frustrated with the dating pool, or any other well-worn cliché about beer-drinkin’ dudes who hang out together.
Of course, a show focused on the minutiae of fantasy football would turn off a lot of viewers, so The League does successfully balance its specific sports details with more basic real-life material. The problem is that material is tired and overblown, and the crass jokes are not worthy of stars like Duplass, who is an accomplished indie-film writer and director (The Puffy Chair, Baghead) in his own right, or Aselton, Duplass’ Puffy Chair co-star, or Scheer, who was always clever on VH1’s Best Week Ever and had a fun recurring role on 30 Rock.
The show has a loose, limp structure that feels at least partially improvised (not surprising since co-creator Jeff Schaffer is a veteran of Curb Your Enthusiasm), but instead of leading to inspired moments, it just meanders off into dead ends. A show more grounded than the often absurd Sunny is a good prospect for this time slot, but The League wallows too much in lame, stale humor to be anything other than one more forgettable show for Sunny to overshadow.