Workaholics: “Heist School” S2 / E1
- B- Community Grade
Like the characters from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the trio in Workaholics goes to great lengths to achieve their goals, ignoring societal rules and common decency all together. When I reviewed the pilot for this site, I mentioned that Workaholics eschewed expectations and created a space where the guys weren’t the only despicable ones around; their boss, for example, was just as bitter about office life, and the show wasn’t pitting the guys against the entire world. If anything, the show kind of resembled The Life And Times Of Tim, where bad things happen to bad people, and everyone’s too self-centered not to simply roll with the punches, and let the hilarity fall where it may.
Revisiting the show after a season off, I’m disappointed. All the things I enjoyed about the pilot have been squandered in “Heist School,” the second season première. Workaholics is now an aimless show about troublemakers who make bad decisions just because they can, and their exploits—fueled by an endless stream of pot and booze—are kind of pathetic, like when that 40-year-old dude shows up at the frat house during alumni week, hoping to score with some freshmen.
The central problem with Workaholics is that its characters, even after an entire season, are entirely disposable. There are no discernible differences between the three other than physical appearance. Anders is sort of the responsible one, but only in the sense that he’s taller than the others, and combs his hair more regularly. (The characterizations on Workaholics have been reduced to the characterizations my grandpa used to judge man’s character in the 1950s.) They’re all essentially playing the same character, so there’s no little comedic game they can play amongst themselves that might even make them feel more like well-rounded people. The focus of the episode, instead, is the game they’re playing with the rest of the world—one three-headed dumb dude vs. The Man, for no particular reason.
In “Heist School,” the boys begin by debating the merits of paying their taxes. They’re losing so much money to the government, they say, and they wonder where that money goes. When one points out that tax money pays for the playground they’re sitting on, they surmise that the playground belongs to them, including the kick-ass dragon statue in front. So, naturally, they steal it, and set it up in front of their house. A few kids from the local high school see the statue, and late one night, steal it right from under the boys’ noses (they were drunk). This prompts the guys to head to the high school and go “under cover”—Third Eye Blind T-shirts and the like—to figure out who the perpetrators were, and get back the dragon.
The most entertaining portion of the episode is when the three guys each choose their own covert identity and infiltrate the school, because it’s an easy way to distinguish themselves from one another. Anders becomes the take-no-shit-from-the-detention-monitor bad guy, Adam attempts to infiltrate the cool kids’ clique, and Blake waits in the bathroom, smoking clove cigarettes, hoping to root out any posers who might lead them to the statue. These three scenes are full of little details, like the fact that Blake is so focused on cloves—the signature of posers. The more the show digs into the weirdly specific things that happen, like when the nerdy kid shits in their pool just because he wants to fit in, the more Workaholics starts to feel like a place worth spending some time in.
I was also pretty fond of the ending, where based on a clue given to them by the nerdy kid, the boys raid a house looking for Reptar/Cee-Lo Green, only to discover they’ve been sold down the river; the house belongs to the principal of the school. Rather than end by involving law enforcement, the principal sits on his front porch with the three guys, and shares a drink with them. “How do you put up with all this?” they wonder. “I’m a functioning alcoholic,” he replies, and that dark Workaholics edge is back.
Unfortunately, it takes an entire episode to find it. There’s a whole lot of banter in “Heist School,” which I assume is partially improvised given how loose the conversation flows. But the guys aren’t speaking from any specific perspective other than, “Work sucks and getting stoned is the best,” so the conversations don’t go anywhere. There’s little reason to continue with Workaholics; the show refuses to dig into its premise beyond surface level, and given the plethora of comedy options on TV today, it’s not worth sticking around.