I have heard great things about the FX comedy “The League” for a while now, and this past weekend I finally got around to watching the first two seasons. Judging by the premise, I knew it would be hard for me not to like this show, and after watching the first two or three episodes I realized that I would probably end up loving it by the time I got done with the 20 episodes that made up the first two seasons.
Watching a large number of episodes of any show in such a truncated time period causes you to sometimes over analyse the show in a way you wouldn’t if you were spacing out the viewings over the course of several months. This makes the viewing experience at times more enjoyable since you don’t have to wait weeks or months for plot lines and cliff hangers to resolve themselves, but it also can detract from a show when you start to nit pick certain issues.
For instance, about a year ago I spent a couple of month watching the entire 15 season run of ER. This was stupid for two reasons. 1. After I was done, I was pretty sure I wanted to go back to school and become a doctor despite all the glaring reasons why that would be a terrible idea. 2. I started to notice all the similar plot devices that were used episode to episode, season to season. For example:
- Early in the series, any time some joyful, wonderful, magical, or miraculous event happened, a wind chime would go off in the soundtrack. by season three of four, there was at least one or two wind chime moments per episode. Baby born? BOOM – wind chime. A child hugs his dying mother? BOOOM – Wind Chime Bitches! Two doctors proclaim their love for each other instead of doing charts, studying for board exams, or actually treating patients …… BBBOOOOOOSSSSHHHHH – WIND CHIMES UP IN THIS BITCH MOTHER FUCKERS.
- Bagging a patient (where you stick that shoe horn thing in their mouth and shove a tube down into their lungs to help them breath) is the standard test to show the audience how proficient a doctor is. Every time a character was taking that step from inexperienced and green to seasoned and confident, they would do that procedure. This was also used anytime an experienced doctor was shaken and unsure of their abilities.
- Anytime a new doctor shows up, the first thing he or she does is casually stroll in and perform a simple action to save a patients life, while all the existing cast members had previously been franticly trying to figure out what was wrong with the patient.
- If you work in the ER, you will at some point have to be treated in the ER, usually from something traumatic happening to you in the ER.
- All higher up doctors treat their med students like shit, except for a few who are amazing teachers. There’s really no in between.
Ok enough about ER, lets get back to the League. While watching the first two seasons of the League I didn’t notice any chimes, but i did notice that as the seasons progressed they felt more and more like Seinfeld episodes. I’m not saying this like it’s a bad thing, but the comparisons are definitely there. In fact, it is so apparent to me, that I thought about writing an article on it and submitting it to Cracked. Before i do that, I thought I’d jump in here and jot down a few notes on what I feel are the major similarities.
Taco = Cramer
This comparison wasn’t evident at first, but became much more obvious once I realized that many other elements of the show are Seinfieldian… which is a word I just made up, but am sure has been used before by others.
- Both characters has unique ways of entering; Cramer busts through the front door violently, while Taco usually sneaks in through a random window when no one is looking.
- Neither characters have a steady source of income and instead rely on a series of “get slightly less poor quick schemes”.
- Both characters have moments when they are confused, mystified, or intrigued by normal every day things, and often appear to be living in their own fantasy world.
All characters have almost no empathy for other human beings
The four main Seinfeld characters become so well known for their lack of empathy for people outside their core group that the final episode was basically an indoctrination of the characters lack of humanity. Want some examples? George is barely affected by his finance’s death. Jerry stealing that marble Rye from some old lady. George knocking over an old lady and shoving kids to the ground when running out of a house he thought was on fire. Elaine stealing all the toilet paper in the ladies bathroom to get back at another lady.
Ok, so how about the league. Ruxin not making a make a wish kid’s wish come true, cause the pro athlete he wants to meet isn’t on his roster. Pete scheduling a ball and penis exam with Andre’s girlfriend the week they play each other in fantasy. Ruxin and Kevin using a clients prison sentence as bargaining chip in a fantasy football trade.
Socially Inept bald guys
I don’t think this one needs a lot of detail analysis, although the main difference between the two is that Dr. Andre is fairly successful professionally unlike George.
Only one main character is a woman and she is basically written like a man
Neither of the leading ladies would be considered delicate flowers, and most of their plot lines could be performed by a male character with almost no tweaking of the script.
Both shows love side bets
Explaining how The League love’s side bets is unnecessary, but not everyone probably remembers how often Jerry, George, Eilaine, and Cramer got involved in friendly wagers. The most famous of all was the contest to see who could last the longest without masturbating. A contest George won, but later admitted to lying about how long he was able to hold out.
A and B plots usually end up fucking each other
Once I realized this similarity, all the others started to fall into place. First things first, I should explain what I mean by the A plot fucking with the B plot. Actually maybe that will be the second thing, and the first thing is a quick explanation of what i mean by A plot and B plot. A plot is the main plot of the episode. That is the thing you see mentioned in the TV listings. For example in season 1 the guys go away to a spa for the weekend. The B plot is the plot or plots that take place during the same episode that don’t directly revolve around or relate to the A plot. For instance in the Spa episode Kevin gets Taco to dress up as his kid’s favorite toy to scare her so she won’t want to play with it any more. That would be B plot.
In most episodes, especially the season two episodes, whatever the character(s) involved in the main (A) plot are working towards, are usually near the end of the episode sabotaged or at least significantly impacted by the goings on of the secondary (B) plot. This was a staple of Seinfeld episodes. For instance here is the IMDB overview of a Seinfeld episode
Jerry gets hundreds of royalty checks, worth 12 cents each, for appearing on a Japanese TV program and gets writer’s cramp. George and Jerry pitch their pilot to Japanese TV executives.
In this episode Cramer in the B or maybe C plot I guess, has a hot tub installed in his apartment and has some Japanese business men sleeping in a huge dresser he just got…. wow, just writing this makes it seem bat shit crazy. Anyways, the steam from the hot tub warps the wood, sealing the Japanese business men in the dresser and Jerry can’t open it cause of the writer’s cramp from signing all those checks. I don’t remember exactly but i think the inability of the Japanese men to get up on time may have caused them to miss a flight or something which probably caused them to loose the Japanese TV pilot possibility. I honestly don’t remember. Ok, here is a more detailed description some dude posted on imdb:
Elaine falls hard for her new boyfriend, who gets hypnotized every time her hears the song “Desperado”. Jerry has to endorse hundreds of royalty checks from Japan because of his work on the “Super Terrific Happy Hour Show” The checks are worth 12 cents each. Jerry claims that he invented the umbrella twirl and then gets ousted by the umbrella salesmen he used to work with. Elaine’s new boyfriend has a thing for a furniture designer named Carl Farbman. He buys Kramer a dresser made by Farbman. Kramer’s Japanese friends run out of money and wind up staying in the drawers of the dresser. When the hot tub warps the drawers (Jerry can’t open them because his hands are cramped from endorsing checks) he axes the Farbman dresser. Elaine’s boyfriend tries to stop him but Jerry swings and hits him in the head. While at the hospital, the doctor loses his patient when he becomes hypnotized by Elaine’s favorite song, “Witchy Woman”
Not the best example of how A influences B and B influences A, but you get the idea i’m sure. If you look at “Expert witness” episode of The League … since it’s the only one i found with an overview written about it online, you can see how all the plot lines kind of culminate at the end with the gang finding Ruxin being punished by the judge in her chambers.
Ruxin is working on a case against a girl who had an accident, sued for money to have plastic surgery, and is asking for more money to cover additional damages. Ruxin’s trying to make the point that the plastic surgery—transforming her from “The Thing” to a super-hottie—was more than enough compensation. He needs an expert witness, and Andre is more than happy to comply, so long as he can obsess over his outfit choice and wear his pedophile circular glasses. Ruxin and Kevin beat the impulse out of Andre, but he still clams up on the stand and resorts to his terribly awkward tendencies. At the same time, Andre’s pushing his awkwardness even further with Taco, offering to draw him nude in exchange for a trade. Even though Andre is clearly the butt of the joke, he maintains a healthy sense of humor about the whole thing, lending a lightheartedness to the way his story progresses. (“I’ll fondle the trade out of him, if that’s what it takes.”)
Meanwhile, Kevin and Jenny have begun colluding, trading sex and thank you note-writing for players. Ruxin suspects something is up, brings it up a few times, then drops it. Later, when Pete is on the witness stand (to show Andre up), Ruxin uses the fact that Pete is under oath to get the truth out about Kevin’s dealings…. Then there’s the case of Taco, who once again spent the episode doing his own thing. He shows up to Kevin’s trial because his TV is out and he’s bored, meets Alia Shawkat the court’s sketcher, and starts a fling. The two do the court recorder’s version of sexting, he finds out she’s married, and her husband shows up to beat Taco up …. But the judge pulls Ruxin into her chamber and tells him she’ll forget the whole thing if he takes their flirtation to the next level. He accepts, and the rest of the gang storms in to find Ruxin down on his knees with a big doggy bone in his mouth.
Yeah I should really try to find better examples for the separate actions of the characters all culminating in everyone fucking each other over, but I don’t feel like digging that deep into the two TV series just yet.
Oh and one more thing.
Nicknames for everything / everybody
BOOM … chimes. you know i’m right about that one.