Workaholics: “The Future Is Gnar”
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Workaholics: “The Future Is Gnar”

Out of all the wonderful My Year Of Flops entries by Nathan Rabin, my favorite is still Freddy Got Fingered, Tom Green’s mystifyingly bizarre film that nearly defies explanation, somehow greenlit at the apex of Green’s popularity on MTV. Add to that his successful YouTube channel and a nicely introspective interview on Marc Maron’s podcast a few weeks ago, and Green deserves a re-evaluation as a comic persona and batshit pied piper who inspired so much of the confident, zany, unchecked humor that young and idealistic comedians put out on the Internet.

Tom Green falls into an interesting category of oddball comedians who strangely still have ambitions of being late-night talk show hosts like David Letterman. Jimmy Fallon is the only sketch comedy disaster to tumble into this role—with great success—but Anthony Jeselnik also fits this type as well. Green loves the format insofar as he can constantly subvert it and push it to see how far he can go with his ideas, and that experimentation can be very exciting, even if it has the chance to take a turn into something disturbing or boring.

All this is a way of saying that unfortunately, “The Future Is Gnar” wastes an inspired guest star. Tom Green is a footnote here, providing recorded phrases for the automatic telemarketing system that threatens to replace all TelAmeriCorps employees with robots, and playing a cyborg version of himself who murders Alice with a futuristic blade-hand. That idea alone—Tom Green as a cyborg killing machine—is enough to pique curiousity, but though this finale is ambitious, it’s still an under-developed experiment, held back by an over-reliance on sophomoric sexual humor and a strangely limited sense of adventure. There’s no real reason for it to specifically be Tom Green in the guest spot. His appearance is barely more than an excuse to play lines from Freddy Got Fingered and make other references to that movie.

Blake makes the most sense as the guy who can spin out a futuristic hellscape fantasy where machines take over TelAmeriCorps, and his vision certainly has a few laughs. The guys huff gas to while away the time locked in their cubicle, waiting to be taken to “Orientation” where they are repurposed as cyborgs, even more mindless cogs in a larger machine. The makeup work is terrible, but it’s at least laughably so, as robotic versions of Jet Set, Waymond, Montez, and Jillian stand in the way of the trio defeating TINA, the computer system so successful no one earns any commissions.

In Blake’s vision, the trio are among the last remaining employees not turned into cyborgs—until Alice comes to change him. Anders sacrifices himself, which inspires Blake and Adam to make an escape attempt. After rescuing Anders, they still have to get a tracking device out of him, which leads to the strangest scene in the episode, as they remove the wire and electronic equipment from his ass. It’s a cringe-inducing sequence, but not funny or particularly inventive. Once they pull the giant, metal anal beads out of Anders, they do send it right back to Alice with a loose butthole note, which gets a nice little laugh, but most of “The Future Is Gnar” is just general robopocalypse doom-and-gloom.

The only comedic bits with specificity are Adam’s overt sexual advances toward Alice, volunteering to be her sex slave—anything for a shot with her. In the final moments of the episode, as the trio try to shut down the generic “mainframe” in a little nod to nonspecific technical jargon, Adam takes the fingering reference even further as he sticks his hand into the machine to “deactivate” the system.

“The Future Is Gnar” has a premise that should let Workaholics run wild with imagination, but it still feels limited by some factor—probably the budget, which keeps the episode confined to one location, with only Tom Green as the only featured actor outside of the regular cast. The humor is familiar, and even the most notable scenes fall short of what this show is capable of when operating at its best. In the midseason finale, Workaholics flashed back to how these guys met in college, and now there’s a middling fantasy of their future stuck in a corporate hellhole. It must have seemed like a harmonious end to a double-length season, but the jokes didn’t keep pace with ideas for this finale.

Stray observations:

  • Adam “CauseProblems” DeMamp is just about the perfect name for that character.
  • I still pick “Real Time” as the best episode of this oversized season, but I’m glad that Comedy Central opted for 13-episode orders for the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • “I’m not an ocean dog, I’m a city cat.”
  • “It’s too late to abort it, which is exactly what my mom used to say about me.” 

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