Workaholics works best for me when it mines laughter from the underlying sadness of its lead trio. Like other shows that function ostensibly as comedies but hide a pool of darkness—Community and Glee are the two best examples—Workaholics has an underlying tragedy that seeps in to varying degrees each week. “Fourth And Inches” is another out-of-office episode that deepens the cracks in Adam, Blake, and Anders’ jesting veneer.
During the college flashback episode in the fall, we could see how these guys found each other as fellow oblivious wayward outcasts, and why that bonded them together in such a way that it’s stunted their maturity and made them shield themselves from having to actually grow up and enter a real world that requires effort to succeed.
But ultimately, the trio is a sad group of guys. When they hang out with just each other—which is the vast majority of their social time—they have a great time, and don’t have to worry about feeling out of place or grossly inadequate. But for all intents and purposes they are social outcasts, unable to fit in or relate to typical experience. Almost everyone has the experience of feeling left out, not everyone was in the popular crowd in school, but it’s also hopefully universal to find a niche of acceptance. Adam, Blake, and Anders have simply never ventured too far outside of an area where they can remain socially limited.
The TelAmeriCorp office is an environment where they can thrive, because every other employee is just as messed up as they are, otherwise they wouldn’t be working in telemarketing. The only person who realizes just how strange everyone is in comparison to the outside world is Alice and she’s so wrapped up in self-loathing at her station in life to get herself out.
Much like the second season premiere, this episode makes Adam, Blake, and Anders the objects of ridicule for high school students: Blake specifically for his alleged micropenis after using the short urinal (“That’s Bathroom 101…”), and the trio in general when Jillian’s football star nephew Billy discovers they don’t know any girls to hang out and drink with (which is suspect, since they’ve definitely thrown big parties before).
Initially, Billy thinks that Adam, Blake, and Anders are guys to look up to, who can get more than a blowjob since they’re out in the adult world—but Jerry, the kid from “Heist School,” knows better, and sets out to take these rubes for all they’re worth. It helps that he’s flanked by two decently funny supporting friends, played by The Inbetweeners cast members Mark L. Young and Zack Pearlman (who also played “Aaron” in the fantastic “Subsitute Teacher” sketch on Key & Peele). It’s a nice bit of Viacom network synergy to have the two of them guesting as Jerry’s buddies.
Anders is the only one of the trio who attempts to appear as though he’s changed since college, but he puts up such a flimsy resistance that it’s only a matter of minutes before he’s back to his freewheeling, gambling ways, getting sucked in by some good luck, then losing everything on prop bets while watching badminton and whether or not some high school guy has the guts to grab a girl’s boob while making out. (There’s also the matter of his constant references to his swimming career, always good for a laugh.)
Workaholics goes for more raunchy humor than a typical comedy, but tonight had two kinds of dick jokes: one that works, and one that doesn’t, though I suspect I’ll be in the minority on which is which. Blake is so mortified by all the high school kids saying his penis is tiny—even the cheerleading squad piles on the ridicule—that he buys a corndog, straps it to himself, and streaks around the field showing off his enhanced member. But once the game is in shambles and the trio flees, Jerry and his friends come to collect. Anders’ last-ditch plan to keep his car is one final Over/Under bet on Blake’s penis size, and that worked splendidly as a sad and funny capstone to the episode. The first scene is pure shock value and strange concept, plus a tip of the cap to Boogie Nights, and it fell flat. The second situation earned a laugh based on expectations and editing.
It’s not often that I feel sympathetic toward the guys on Workaholics, but seeing them consistently humiliated and bested by younger kids does manage to turn them into slightly lovable losers. Even impersonating a high school football player, interrupting a game by tackling a player, and unnecessary streaking doesn’t ruin that.
- The cold open, where the trio and Jillian jeer one of the football players with the kid’s mom a few rows in front of them, is great: “You’re not a total failure, don’t listen to everyone!”
- “News flash: dicks. We’ve all got them if we’re boys.” Thanks for the observation, Toothpick.
- Jillian is very attached to her pets: “Cats are kids. Kidd-ens.”
- “Billy, you should really be in the hospital, but by God I’m glad you’re here with us! Now get out there and bring this one home!” Seriously, football is dangerous and probably won’t exist in 50 years.
- So far, the back half of this season has far exceeded the first ten episodes, though there hasn’t been an immediate classic like “Real Time” yet.