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Friday, December 17, 2010

The League Shows Modern Masculinity

Although FX's The League airs on Thursday nights, it was not on last night. In fact, I can't tell you the next time it will be on, though my guess is in about nine months. The fact that The League takes that long a break is probably the most disappointing thing about this awesome, hilarious show, though it's a typical hiatus for a FX program.

Season two ended last week with "The Sacko Bowl" (even though imdb only lists "Kegel the Elf" last week, which was one of two new episodes). It was thrilling to get thirteen episodes, considering season one only had six. The characters are now fully defined, as I have mentioned in past reviews, the show is strongest when the lead characters are all together, usually giving each other grief. This season had plenty of that, including in the finale. It's just a bunch of guys hanging out, interacting as men do. Usually the show stays away from cheesy, though I was amused by the solar eclipse that ended the season when Ruxin won the Shiva Bowl.

The series is a fine example of modern men. Many of us are not the uber-macho, tough guys of old. I am not knocking men that are that old model, as they are still the dominant image, and a number of the men less-so still aspire to be like them. Plenty of us are not blue collar, and don't want to be, though, and masculinity has had to find new ways to exhibit itself in addition to (not replacing) the original. What I love about The League is, though I don't like football, these are my kind of guys. How many of us viewers would not love to spend the night at the bar with Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi), Taco (Jon Lajoie), Pete (Mark Duplass), and even Ruxin (Nick Kroll), helping them pick on Andre (Paul Scheer)? There is real affection in the group, and it's nice to see those types of guys on TV in such an authentic way.

Although not appearing in every episode, Jenny (Katie Aselton, Duplass's real life wife) fits right in with the boys. Sure, there's the girl thing, and occasionally there may be some slight conflict because she is Kevin's wife, so they may get a little chummy. However, she can trash talk with the rest of them, and they don't censor themselves when she's in the room. I like the element she brings, which was upped a bit as she joined the league partway through this season. In fact, she had one on one scenes with some of the guys, without her husband around, and it was fantastic. It helps that she is cute, smart, and potty mouthed. One of the highlights of this season was when her daughter's teacher played a foul rant back to Jenny that she had posted online. Hopefully next year she will be a full fledged member of the gang, and get more interaction with everyone else.

I also enjoy Ruxin's wife, Sofia (Nadine Velazquez, My Name is Earl), who got more screentime this year. She obviously isn't the type that would be in the league, but it would be nice if they would upgrade her to series regular. She's a nice addition, and she and Ruxin have a very entertaining relationship. Who knows? Maybe down the line Jenny could even persuade her to join in the online fun, even if Sofia will never be the football fan the others are.

I also give kudos to the inclusion of Ruxin and Sofia's son and Kevin and Jenny's daughter in plot. Often, they aren't seen. However, both got some story and screen time late in the season, and it was well handled. Yes, a couple of these guys are father, and it's a very important part of them that isn't always paid attention to. I like that The League was not afraid to address it, and retain their brand of funny at the same time.

I will miss The League during its long absence, and will be very excited for its return. For now, season one has been released on DVD, so I'm looking forward to reliving those original episodes.

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