Simply by being an FX sitcom, Jim Jefferies’ rollickingly raunchy series Legit came out of the gate last year in the same conversation as Louie and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and though it never feels like a replica of either show, the “strong-willed ne’er do well does no one well” tone matches up. Its debut season was crassly hysterical in all the right ways, though some episodes approached material a little too broadly. But the laughs are so frequent, it’s easy to lose sight of the critical eye when Dan Bakkedahl’s put-upon schmuck Steve is drunkenly raving about who he lost his virginity to.
Having watched the first four episodes of Legit’s sophomore season, I’m happy to report it’s maturing nicely, with tighter scripts and a more steady tone. That’s saying something, considering the ante on explicit debauchery was raised a few times over. There are quite a few laugh out loud bits that strike hard for those with dark senses of humor and it would be an injustice to ruin any of them, so I’ll try to stay as spoiler free as possible.
These four episodes hit upon many of the stories that Jefferies shared with us in a recent interview. For instance, one episode deals with Jim’s potentially addictive feelings towards sex, and not only do we get to see his boundless masturbatory habits that happen to coincide with action movies, but we get to see how Jim reacts inside of a sexaholics meeting.
A few scenes in the first season could feasibly be called “emotionally poignant,” but I was taken aback by the -- to borrow from the title -- legitimately dramatic sequences that these episodes delivered. Jim, Steve and Billy all go to a class reunion – never a sign of comfortable and well-meaning humor – and not only does it give us a little insight into Steve’s rampant depression-turned-alcoholism, but Jim encounters a shock from his past that is a tough moment for any television show. But because we’ve been set up inside this world where no subject is off limits, we know that no situation is without a spring of humor, and closeted skeletons of all kinds are embraced and handled in deftly unconventional ways that make getting offended nearly impossible.
From there, we go to another episode that centers on a death in Billy’s disabled community, and while it’s played for some laughs, particularly in Steve and Jim’s ability to morph the situation into a way to pick up women, there is still emotional depth here. And not only from those grieving the loss of a friend, but those grieving the loss of a childhood. Legit has already gotten a lot of praise for the prevalence of characters with physical and mental health issues, but with Steve it also manages to give depressed people a mirror to find humor in. The fact that he slips down into a pool of alcohol abuse for part of this season isn’t exactly inspiring, but it’s a character type that isn’t portrayed on many series with quite the enraged gusto that Bakkedahl brings to the role.
The episode I haven’t referred to yet is called “Racist” and in it you’ll hear the phrase “racist pussy” more times than you ever have in your life. This is one where it’s best not to get into the central problem, but know that the seemingly controversial problem at its center is handled nearly as respectfully as everything else. Only, not really, because only the black guy gets any sort of reparations. Art imitating life, that’s what Legit is.
All that, and I didn’t even get to the fact that John Ratzenberger, as Steve and Billy’s father, moves in with the guys, and we get to see a completely different side of his character as he steps out of his shell. If I had to mark these episodes down for anything in particular, it’s that there wasn’t enough of Mindy Sterling’s suffocating Janice. Otherwise, this is a definite step up for yet another FX comedy that does what no network sitcom could dream of. Legit lives up to its name.
Watch the Season 2 premiere tonight at 10 p.m. EST on FXX, and tune in every Wednesday for more mostly R-rated hijinks.