A funny episode of Workaholics is a successful game of Mad Libs. Adam, Ders, and Blake want ______ (type of food, intoxicant, wealth, or sex act). They come up with a plan involving ______(half-understood pop culture reference), which makes only tangential sense to the dilemma at hand. The guys destroy ______(type of personal property or body part) and end up covered in ______ (bodily fluid). They do not get what they want, but still have each other and end up on the roof under the influence of ______(type of intoxicant). That’s not necessarily a criticism of the show—in order to remain as viable and entertaining as it often is while hewing to such a rigid template is a not-inconsiderable achievement. Of course, that’s also a backhanded way of saying that every episode of Workaholics partakes of a certain sameness, but perhaps that’s because I’m subtly putting it down to try and get something more from it.
Yup, the guys have discovered “negging,” whereby men undermine the self-esteem of attractive women they want to sleep with in order to, I don’t know, shake their supervillain-like lady uber-confidence or something. Codified by the author of the loathsome tome The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society Of Pickup Artists (which gets name-dropped in “Beer Heist”), the practice is new to the guys’ douche-quiver this week, and they employ it about as effectively as they do everything else. In pursuit of a trio of underage (for purchasing alcohol, not for legal—if icky—sexual congress) co-eds, the guys deploy the two-pronged attack of sledgehammer “negging” (Ders: “Hey, what’s up, pigs?”), and offering to obtain the beer for the lasses’ sorority party. Honestly, the latter would have done just fine as an icebreaker, but the guys can’t even get that part right, turning down the ladies’ readily proffered booze money and instead planning the even more awesomely impressive titular beer heist from an unattended delivery truck.
The plan is a disaster, naturally, eventually involving: three broken legs, scorn from the girls, possible hood damage to the Vo, and an undrinkable mobile beer hot tub filled with Karl’s poop. Along the way, though, Adam and Ders manage a few high-risk minor triumphs, all thanks to their ability to disregard all reason and safety in pursuit of barely legal sex. Running through the episode is the theme of “horniness” as fuel for the sorts of insanely foolhardy stunts guys regularly undertake to impress women, with only poor Blake initially incapable of suppressing his common sense (or common decency) in order to know the touch of a woman. It’s not a new theme, but the way the guys externalize that cliché subtext into bro-shouted text gives the actors ample opportunity to engage in the loose, improvisational back-and-forth that remains Workaholics’ chief asset. Adam’s desperate near-self-awareness remains tragically funny, as he confides to Blake, “And me, like, it’s sad what I will go through. To get some.” Adam Devine always threatens to overwhelm the show, but it must be conceded that his self-deluded motormouth schtick usually produces the most quotable lines. Blake’s position as the trio’s almost-decent one continues as well, with his attempts to summon his colleagues’ death-defying horndog bravery succeeding only in conjuring images of trips to Paris, smelling the girl’s hair, maybe stealing a smooch. As far as character distinctions go on Workaholics (not too far and pretty elastic), Blake’s comparative almost-decency stems from this childlike approach to sex—he’d like some if it’s offered, but he’s much more content, as he says, drinking beers and crushing burgers on the roof with his friends.
That naïf almost-sweetness goes a long way toward making Workaholics as palatable as it is, as the show, as ever, wants its comedy both ways. In the guys’ sheer ineptitude at being the sort of boorish, sexist, ignorant, catchphrase-happy womanizers they try to be, Workaholics is engaging in broad satire of the sorts of guys who find those behaviors funny and admirable. At the same time, the show deploys those behaviors in order to get cheap laughs—from guys who find those behaviors funny and admirable.
It’s an uneasy mix, especially as the creators’ approach to the comedy is so haphazard—in tonight’s episode, for example, the guys’ Neanderthal vulgarity trying to bust moves on the college girls is obviously intended as mockery. At the same time, the girls are portrayed as vapid enough to fall for such sexist gamesmanship—if the guys were any good at it. Sure, they eventually ditch the guys, leaving them broken and groveling in the gutter (”I was just negging you,” Ders pleads desperately, “but you’re probably just too stupid to realize it—see that was another one!”), but look at the scene where Ders, deftly plucking Adam’s tossed beer out of the air, boasts, “That’s just the tip of the iceberg, you frickin’ whale,” while the girl next to him in the Vo gives him a coy and appreciative look. Plus, they’re actually impressed when the guys hurl themselves off the beer warehouse (”That’s Steve-O hot,” one gushes), at least before the be-diapered Karl cannonballs into the pilfered beer supply. Not to hammer home the comparison, but a show like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, whose characters similarly act in reprehensible ways, wouldn’t be so mushy about its comic point of view. When Adam snaps, “Ders, how about you give this dumptruck of a girl her money back,” or Ders boasts that his penis is probably too big for their “tiny pussies,” their ineptitude would be more endearing if what they’re saying weren’t so crude and their targets so dim by design. (Honestly, there’s no earthly reason those women would get into Ders’ car with him if they weren’t written that way.)
After it all goes predictably south, the guys end up back where they started, drinking and having fun in the bright daylight of their front lawn, beer croquet given over to mobility scooter races in deference to the limbs broken in their last, desperate, horniness-fueled blaze of glory/stupidity. As Karl brings another hot tub full of tourists to show off noted Rancho Cucamonga celebrities Robin Williams (Adam), Pauly Shore (Blake), and, to Ders’ great pleasure, Bradley Cooper, the guys are, as Blake understood earlier in the episode, right where they belong—drunk, having fun with each other, and not bothering anyone.
- Calling back to last week’s guest star, Adam describes the beer truck heist as “dangerous, Lorenzo Lamas-type stuff.”
- Adam, responding to a compliment on his sweet beer-croquet shot: “Thank you, I’m a clutch player. I think it’s because Steve Kerr accidentally spit on me at a sports show as a kid.”
- Adam speculates that said spit gave him some “Like Mike ju-ju.”
- “You’re going to drink yourself to death! You’ll get too drunk—if that’s a real thing.”
- Even Adam concedes that there’s more to life than trying to pick up chicks: “I love you guys! And I love kissin’ those chicks! And I love DQ Blizzards—we should go to DQ.”
- Trotting out the Japanese tourist cliché, guys? Snapping photos and mis-identifying American celebrities? Really? In 2014?
- Could have done without the sheer volume of his poop comedy this episode, but Kyle Newacheck’s Karl is reliably weird and funny. He’s a dirtbag, but his honest flattery of the girls (“Oh my goodness you have incredibly delicate shoulders,” “There’s that smile that makes me wanna be a better man”) wins the girls over with ease. Oh, and he bothered to learn their names.
- Newacheck, who directed this episode, does some energetic work filming the truck heist.
- Bodily function count: Karl’s diarrhea, Karl’s adult diaper, Karl’s beer-diarrhea stew, Karl.