The second-to-last scene of this, the second episode of Legit, begins with Jim Jefferies rushing to a park looking for Billy, his friend in a mechanized wheelchair, who’s run off (well, rolled, as Jeffries puts it). Billy’s mom is freaking out, as is Billy’s older brother Steve. Before we go any further, I want to point out that my name is Steve and my younger brother is named Billy.
End of review.
Anyway, Jim is frantically looking for Billy, and he corners a homeless man to ask for help. When the man doesn’t respond right away, Jim starts wondering what led Billy to this. It’s dreams, he surmises, hence the name of the episode. Dreams are what make people leave their cushy life for something more without even knowing how to get from point A to point B. So, inevitably, they will be disappointed. Jefferies laments the fact that at one point, he dreamt of being a stand-up comic. So he wanted to be on TV. He was. Then he wanted to move to America. So he did. Now people are talking to him about movies. Dreams are what make good people go crazy, chasing a false idea of happiness.
If the central conceit of Legit is that Jefferies is bettering himself as a person, “Dreams” is him coming to terms with the fact that he’ll never truly be happy—not in the way he imagines when he first wakes up in the morning, and the world is full of possibilities. No. That makes him depressed because most of those possibilities will not be accomplished by day’s end. But that’s okay. Because happiness, in the world of Jim Jefferies, is no longer something that is all-encompassing. It’s a series of small moments, stuffed into a scarecrow that stands guard over your self-esteem.
There are a few in the following scene, once Jefferies convinces Billy not to commit suicide (not that he could, given his chair ran out of power. Jim is in his apartment, where Billy now lives. His best friend, Steve, is sound asleep in the other room. Billy is comfortable. Jefferies is peeing into a plastic container and no longer has to get up. Life is good.
Because Legit is a heightened version of Jefferies’ reality, “Dreams” is a chance to explore what pure happiness actually looks like. Picking up right where the pilot left off, Jefferies decides that in order to prove his worth as a person, he should hang out with Billy, his friend with muscular dystrophy, and show him the time of his life. He convinces Steve (the always unflappable Dan Bakkedahl) to bust Billy out of his intense care facility, and the two embark on a very low-grade caper.
Cut to the next morning, after a rager of a party. We don’t get the luxury of seeing what happened; all we know is that there’s a hooker asleep on the couch and Billy is tripping his balls off. And Rodney, Billy’s dwarfish roommate who came along for the ride, has bowled a perfect game on the Wii—and has a pile of scripts to read. Everyone is perfectly content with themselves at this very moment. This, my friends, is known as the moment we all chase every day of our lives, be it drinking coffee to wake ourselves up or drinking beer to calm ourselves down. Just to be completely level, and smiling.
Now, for real, I could theoretically end the review, but a few things are nagging at me big-picture that I should tackle before moving forward. Despite what I said earlier, I’m hesitant to call Legit a show about something specific just yet. Jefferies is a chameleon-like live performer. He comes off as a guy who’s got some fucking crazy drinking stories, but his goal is never to shock. On stage, he tries, and succeeds effortlessly, to find the heart of whatever he’s talking about, even if that thing is hiring a hooker to blow his disabled friend. He’s world-weary, but a serial optimist. There are a lot of contradictions to the man, and under the watchful eye of his co-creator, I’d imagine those contradictions will be played up full-force in the coming weeks.
There’s also the matter, as Todd pointed out last week, of the number of female characters on the show. There are not many. Which, having aired only two episodes, is something no one’s going to write any angry screeds about just yet. But my problem so far is that the two strong female characters we do have are the biggest buzzkills. Billy and Steve’s mom is a supreme bummer who chastises Steve for having a friend as loyal as Jim—failing to see that big ol’ heart behind the Aussie boorishness. Ramona turns around by the end of the episode, praising Jefferies for showing Rodney a good time, but is still very much feared for most of it. As long as Jefferies ensures that the men aren’t creating chaos just so the women can clean up their messes, then I have faith the show will balance things out in the coming weeks.
Legit had a strong start. I got a kick out of the pilot not only because it was a well-told story, but it was one that I’d seen Jefferies do on stage before, and therefore I knew it was true. No TV-heightening going on here. Moving on, I know that Jefferies is planning on using a lot of his act on the show, but the real trick is going to be how he balances his ability to jump around various locations and times on stage with the real concerns of running a relatively believable TV show. As on “Dreams,” Legit may have lofty ambitions, but it’s those little things, like the casual digs at LA culture and Billy’s insistence that he only needs two inches of water to drown, that make it truly stand out.