“Health” S1 / E7
- C+ Community Grade
The conceit of Legit has all but been completely abandoned. Jim Jefferies is no longer trying to be the “legit” one by doing good and making himself feel better. Instead, he’s trying to legitimize his bad behavior, and “Health” is proof positive that the show is better than its initial hook, nor should it be shackled by it. I guess that’s why people get pilots approved (easy to explain), and why so many pilots are only small, unrepresentative samples of a show (because creativity ebbs and flows, as you’d expect). And it’s not like Legit has seen a rapid departure from form. It’s been gradual, in line with the emotional learning curve of its characters.
Because things happen slowly, my favorite episodes of Legit so far have been those where Jefferies stirs up trouble then, like a trickster god, sits back and revels in the chaos he has created. “Justice” springs to mind, as does the first episode. “Health” is stuck somewhere in limbo. Jim transforms Eddie from eight-packed Los Angeles muscle-dude into sad sack (with the physical resemblance to match) poon hound, and realizes his own heft—modest as it is—has never been the kind of obstacle the Hollywood vanity machine makes it out to be. And this breath of self-awareness speaks to Jim’s power as a comic that makes people feel okay about their darkest impulses.
But there are no new tactics at work here. What little development Jefferies and company have gone through gets sacrificed for the sake of driving a plot surrounding Eddie, whom we just met. This recovering alcoholic is having trouble meeting women despite physically resembling a He-Man/Will Arnett love child, and the solution? Booze. And ending conversations with women using petty insults. Oh, and exploiting Billy’s disability. To be fair, these are all things that had their own episode, notably when Steve was having trouble hitting on the cute accountant from his office and used Jefferies’ tactics to score a date. And now they are all being put into practice at once—driven by Billy, no less. The result: everything that’s expected. Nothing novel comes out of this alchemy. Plus, didn’t Jim learn that his tactics don’t really work when observing Billy’s awesomely honest Skype date?
When Legit has a memory, it’s a hell of a memory. After all, Ramona has become beloved, not feared; every single person on the show is rooting for her now. And Rodney has shown himself to not only be a gifted Wii bowler, but a star acting pupil of Andy Dick. But I can’t shake the feeling that “Health” is a reset button on Legit’s ability to age gracefully, and just about any joke, no matter how good it may be, loses some luster the second time around.
That’s the meat of “Health”, the stuff in the middle. The bread—the moments at the beginning and the end—are an entirely different episode, and a savvy one at that. Jim doesn’t get the role he thinks he wants because of his looks, and goes off on a tirade against the industry that claims the super fit and attractive are “normal,” whereas anyone beyond that is weird. Jim’s not fat, but not Magic Mike fit; he’s just a regular guy, and in his words, there’s no place for a regular guy in Hollywood. Amen, brutha. Legit has given Jim a chance to look at the world from the outside (though specifically LA) and have a brutally honest opinion about it. He’s already an outsider, of course, as his attempts to do an American accent would make very evident. This just ramps it up and allows him to make a show that takes taboos down a few pegs. And in “Health,” he enlists Andy Dick, too, who is comfortable mocking himself and hoity-toity theatrical exercises that I’m sure most Hollywood actors totally buy into.
There are a lot of disparate threads in “Health.” None have to do with Jim trying to be a better person, and that’s great. Legit is growing and evolving. But “Health” is more growing pains than a growth spurt.