The League is moving to a new network this month, but the guys and gal in the series are up to the same sort of hijinks, which include plenty of off-color jokes, a destination draft, and guest appearances from some of football’s best and brightest. At it’s heart, The League is still about coming together to mercilessly tease and trample upon anyone who might stand in the way of the ultimate goal of winning the Shiva trophy and being declared league winner. If that’s not the perfect excuse for a comedy, I’m not sure what is.
The League has always had a problem with featuring too many unmarried brosephs in the group. Of the five guys, only Ruxin (Nick Kroll) and Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) have their acts together in the wife department, and only Kevin’s wife, Jenny (Katie Aselton), is actually accepted into the league. It’s fine for the purposes of the comedy, which mostly follows antics related to the group’s fantasy football league, but the unmarried status of Pete (Mark Duplass), Andre (Paul Scheer), and Taco (Jonathan Lajoie), and to a lesser extent characters like Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas), kind of give you an idea of the juvenile antics present in the series. If you are looking for heady or acerbic comedy, The League isn’t it.
The first two episodes follow the wedding of Andre, who has met the woman of his dreams in Trixie (Glee’s Jayma Mays). Andre invites the guys to get out of Illinois and join his relatives and his betrothed in California, where they have planned a Top Gun (Top Groom)-themed wedding, to much rolling of eyeballs.
The first episode of a given season of The League is generally one of the more interesting episodes, as it sets up each of the characters’ teams for the season as well as cements alliances and under the table trades to help each of the characters get what he or she wants. Jenny is especially good at this sort of deception, and she has a few fine moments in the season opener and the episode following, but Andre has the bigger task of deceiving his partner, who has expressly forbade the draft to take precedence during their wedding weekend.
Thus a secret draft commences, featuring one of the best scenes from The League in recent memory where Pete and Kevin both vie for a great trade during their toasts to the bride and groom. Adam Brody guest stars in the first two episodes as a friend from the group’s past who has AIDS and builds incredibly realistic-looking sand castles. All-in-all, the beginning of Season 5 offers winning episodes of The League, although not the winningest.
Now in its fifth season, I’m not sure that FXX’s The League can surprise me any more in terms of plot, but the witty one-liners have always been where this series is at, anyway. In fact, some episodes of The League don’t really have a lot in terms of actual plot going on, in favor of riffing off one another for a half hour. The first two episodes of Season 5 have a little more plot than usual, mostly due to the wedding-related format of the episode, the destination trip, and the fantasy football league draft. That would have been a lot to shoehorn into one episode, and I’m glad the series took two to accomplish the premise. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to introduce the populace to a brand new network than through The League and other premiere It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. FXX is looking to reach a younger, hipper audience than some of FX’s programming and I can’t wait to see what else the network brings to the table in the coming months.
If you’d like to catch new episodes of The League, you can do so beginning on Wednesday, September 4 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Only on FXX.