Giving The League Another Chance

When The League premiered last year, I wasn’t very impressed.  For one, I thought that a show about a fantasy football league should have been a bit more realistic when it came to the league itself.  Aside from that, though, I thought most of the jokes were lame and safe, a shame considering that The League follows one of cable’s raunchier shows, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Anyway, several friends of mine, unlike me, watched past the first episode and, testifying how funny the show is, convinced me to give it another chance.

Mind you, it wasn’t just friends who recommended The League to me.  In between spelling and grammar errors and personal attacks, some of our very lovely readers insisted that I watch the show, too.  I figured I’d watch the Season 2 premiere with hopes that the show had improved from the very first episode.  Fortunately, it did.  I was wrong about The League not lasting very long (unless it’s canceled after this season, then I’m just sort of wrong, but whatever), and while it’s not a wiping-tears-out-of-my-eyes-while-laughing type of comedy, it’s certainly entertaining.  I found myself laughing out loud at least five times throughout the Season 2 premiere, which should be taken as pretty high praise from someone as jaded as myself.

So why the change of heart?  What was different about “Vegas Draft” that separated itself from the lame first ever episode?  For one – and this is sort of minor – the show actually acknowledged that an 8-team fantasy league is pretty weak.  10- or 12-team leagues are standard, and 8-team leagues are certainly in the minority.  Kudos to the show’s writers for addressing this, and it was pretty cool to see that it was none other than Chad Ochocinco himself making this proclamation.  However, like I mentioned above, the accuracy of the league within The League was far from the reason I didn’t enjoy this show the first time around.  The reason was simply the humor, but that’s come a long way.

It’s difficult to articulate how one set of jokes (like in the first episode of Season 1) aren’t funny, while the jokes in “Vegas Draft” were mostly funny, but I’ll give it a shot nevertheless.  The jokes, or rather, the dialogue itself, seemed much more natural, and many of the jokes were actually dirty and what you’d expect from a show that airs on cable at 10:30 p.m.  I also felt that the characters were a bit more defined this time around, especially the painfully awkward and dorky Andre.  That guy killed me, and I felt like the best lines were either spoken by him or were uttered at his expense.

It wasn’t just that the jokes were dirty that made me laugh this time around; they were actually something I could relate to.  For example, in the first episode of Season 1, there was trash talking back and forth between the guys in the league, but it was generic and lame.  There was nothing personal, and as passionate as guys can get over fantasy sports, everyone knows trash talking is pretty worthless unless it’s got some bite to it.  In “Vegas Draft,” however, right off the bat, there was something I could relate to – going to Vegas with a bunch of your guy friends while your wife (or in my case, fiance) suggests that it would be fun if she came along, and that if she didn’t, Vegas would be just as much fun without my friends and with her.  The look on the guy’s face whose wife was pestering him about Vegas said it all.  Very well-played.

I also liked the fact that the guys were too interested in discussing draft strategies to pat attention to the strippers wriggling on stage before them, I liked Andre’s failed “Child please!” catch phrase and Ochocinco’s use of it, and I liked everyone ripping on Andre for the trophy he had custom made.  I think it’s fair to say – if you couldn’t tell already – that the real draw of this show is Andre.  Oh, I liked that bearded guy, too – Rafi.  I think the inclusion of him and showing situations like the guys racing through airport security for the number one pick have helped make the show a little sillier and more absurd, but that’s a good thing so long as we’re not talking about the fantasy league itself.  No, I’m still not sold on a guy’s wife running his fantasy team and being more knowledgeable than him with regard to drafting, but oh well.  Call me sexist if you like, I don’t care.  It just doesn’t happen.

So like I mentioned, The League isn’t the funniest show on television, but I also didn’t give it a fair shake the first time around.  I thought “Vegas Draft,” the Season 2 premiere, was a ginormous improvement from what I had seen of the first season and, for now at least, I’ll be watching The League.  Ah, the perils of having an open mind.