The League: “Thanksgiving”                                                                           
B+

The League: “Thanksgiving”                                                                           

Ah, Thanksgiving, the time when every sitcom battles to show us the most horrifying possible outcome of that meal of family togetherness. It’s a tough competition, but I have to say that The League took the gold this week, presenting a holiday full of unexpected guests, uncomfortably explicit sexual innuendo at the dinner table and, yes, an accidentally cooked class pet. This week’s episode had by far the best guest appearances of the season, with Jeff Goldblum as an uncannily appropriate Ruxin’s dad and Sarah Silverman as Andre’s adorable slutbag sister. “Thanksgiving” verged on the gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable, but it was also as good as the show has gotten the season—just terrible enough to be plausible, just wince-worthy enough to be hilarious instead of plain awful. 

Ruxin, in his infinite misanthropic genius, has tricked both sides of his family into believing that he will be away for Thanksgiving, thus liberating him for a weekend full of masturbating and singing weirdly to himself. (Seriously, Nick Kroll’s half-manic songs about his daily activities are some of the funniest moments of this season.) Enter Jeff Goldblum as Ruxin’s dad, who obviously had the same idea of escaping family obligations and staking out the holiday on his son’s empty couch. The dynamic between Goldblum and Kroll was great, particularly as the sarcastic duo against the rest of the gang at the bar. “Remember me?” Andre asks desperately. “You told me to stop wearing back because I looked like Nosferatu.” When Pete tells Goldblum that the dudes, while in high school, stole his liquor and replaced it with water, his response is perfect: “I remember that. That’s why I peed in those bottles before you got there.”

And his usefulness didn’t end there: Pete, Kevin, Andre, and Taco have all bandied together to lose weight before the pound-packing marathon of the holidays. Ruxin, of course, has a clever way to cheat the system: attaching his pedometer to his wrist as he frantically jerks off so that he doesn’t have to run. Naturally, Dad-blum approves, and offers to wear the pedometer while he does actual running—done and done. Andre’s sister Heather, played by the effusive and amazing Sarah Silverman, arrives and is eaear to remind the boys of the sexual mentoring she did for them in high school, to Andre’s terror. She’s especially keen on the oral portion of the lessons: “Remember? Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open up the doors and eat all the people.”

This of course leads up to an epically terrible Thanksgiving meal, hosted by Jenny and Kevin, who are also dealing with the terrible burden that every parent with a elementary school-aged child must face: their turn with the class pet, a fluffy guinea pig named Shakespeare. Heather, in her advances towards Pete, accidentally lets Shakespeare out, and he crawls right into—you guessed it—the awaiting cavity of the turkey. I know I’ve protested in the past about the believability of the hijinx on the show, and I’m not claiming that this one totally escaped the bullshit radar, but it was close enough to all the class pet-related disasters I’ve known that I’ll let it fly. Then, of course, Heather administers a veiled lesson on cunnilingus over Jenny’s meticulously prepared sorbet, while staring meaningfully across the table at Ruxin’s father. “I’m never going to be able to eat sorbet like that,” Kevin says panickedly. And, of course, the whole things ends with Heather and Ruxin’s dad banging in the bathroom while the dudes burst in, ready to vomit from the guineaturkey. If there’s a worse way for Thanksgiving to go, it’s hard to imagine it. Even nuclear apocalypse might be preferable. 

Stray observations:

  • “During Thanksgiving the Indians taught them to eat maize and be generous lovers.”
  • “Taco didn’t know what a vagina was before he met me.” “He was eleven.”
  • “Pale, some would say pasty, I say freshly peeled like an apple.”

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