Netflix notified me via a thoughtful email that season five of The League is finally available for streaming! The cable sitcom chronicles a Chicago fantasy football league composed of six friends who treat interact in the boorish manner as the “friends” on Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is also on FX. Although I would challenge someone to know less about a football than I do, the all-star comedic cast consistently delivers a hilariously crass story that even I can follow.
Semi-Scripted Gives Actors’ Freedom
It’s important to mention that The League is improv-ed, not in the Second City way, but rather each each scene has an outline and the characters just have to take the scene from point A to point B. In the first episode of the fifth season where Ruxin (Nick Kroll) decides to leave the league, the scenes play out with his friends trying to figure out why and then tempt Ruxin back into the league. As a result of several strong comedic actors playing off each other, the manages to find creative variations on common insults that can make sitting on the couch funny to watch.
The Cast Has Got Mad Range
The actors, however, come from pretty different backgrounds which means they all have different strengths that the show has embraced. Nick Kroll has a sketch show on Comedy Central, while Mark Duplass and his real life wife Katie Aselton starred in the prototypical Mumblecore film, The Puffy Chair. What could’ve been an imbalance, becomes the shows asset. Comedian Paul Scheer and internet-famous comedian Jon Lajoie play the extreme characters on the show: fedora-wearing wannabe Andre and stoner, ladies’ man Taco, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton and Stephen Rannazzisi round out the cast as more or less straight men (and woman).
Being an FX show, the plots are consistently pretty explicit in sexual stuff and some serious potty humor like the season three episode, “Yobogoya” where Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) gets diarrhea from a gross Chinese fast-food and has to go on the road while stuck in traffic. The premises sound kind of childish, but as with any good television show, the intelligence of the execution illustrates The League is only playing dumb. From a viewing of the first episode of the fifth season where Ruxin is made to wear a bull suit with giant testicles, I think the show is continuing on the same ridiculous trajectory. Check out the show and let me know what you think about the show!