My least favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was Taco Bell’s “Viva Young.” Not only did it feature a horrifically overplayed pop song (I’m happy Nate Ruess has finally found success, but both the first Fun album and his previous band The Format were far better) translated into Spanish and then sung with awful pronunciation, but it went for an outplayed joke that didn’t hit the mark. I get that Betty White’s Off Their Rockers nets decent ratings—it handily outperforms Community and Parks And Recreation—but when a commercial’s soundtrack makes ears bleed and its only joke—“old people acting young is funny”—doesn’t land, the commercial is a failure.
Which makes “The Worst Generation” all the more delightful, because it takes that same concept and turns it into something hilarious. Several elements from that Taco Bell commercial are present in this episode—a promiscuous older woman, an old guy engaging in dangerous behavior befitting youths, an impromptu pool party—but they’re more fleshed out and grounded in character. Each of the guys has a goal at the nursing home, and the trials of attaining those goals gives the simple concept much more comedic depth. Plus, its the funniest episode with the most pure laughs since “Real Time” last fall.
While making a workout video based around exercises with a large tire, Adam dislocates both his shoulders, but can’t go to a hospital since his grandfather took him off his medical insurance. So Adam goes to visit Grandpa DeMamp, while Anders uses his Flip Video to film a spec episode of True Life and Blake searches for someone to be his grandpa. The elder DeMamp sees Adam as a pussy incapable of acting like a real man, and Adam’s futile attempts to overcome his injuries only proves that watching other people get hurt is still funny. Anders stumbles upon an older woman playing pool who immediately begins to seduce him. And Blake finds an old guy playing guitar, and bonds with him by stealing prescription drugs.
Anders and Blake both have a reverence for older people—though Anders may just be playing it up in order to film interviews for his True Life idea—but Adam’s grandpa is thoroughly an awful human being. But as with Adam, he’s hiding deep insecurity that manifests in ridiculous behavior—he’s a true DeMamp.
It also helps that yet another guest star gives the episode a boost. This week it’s fellow Comedy Central veteran Jordan Peele as Mark, the only nursing home staff member we see. He’s a coyote-hunting enthusiast—“The animals in here are way worse than the coyotes out there”—but also mostly a buzzkill to the trio and their respective old people. Adam’s failed attempt at riding his grandfather’s Rascal off the roof ruins the luau, and combined with Anders’ revealing dance routine and Blake’s toupee-as-beard diversion, that causes Mark to ban them all, leading to a jailbreak and moving back to the house.
The luau party back at the trio’s house is notable simply for the other guests. Blake’s mistakenly autocorrected text yields two fantastic costumes—Jillian as Lou Albano and Karl as Jimmy Hart—and Jillian’s hockey team full of, in Anders’ words, “Russian lesbian hockey player[s] living in America… maybe legally.” The woman trying to seduce Anders shifts her attention to one of the hockey players, not realizing she’s a woman, and Blake has to give mouth-to-neck-hole CPR when his new grandpa can’t handle his Russian whippit—though he does solidly win a drinking contest by consuming hand sanitizer. Mark reappears to corral the escaped elderly people and sends Adam’s grandpa “running,” leading to the slowest chase scene possible.
That list should fall into the trap of old people acting young, but so many throwaway lines and larger scenes work. It's because the point isn’t that all of these people aren’t trying to show that they’re still young at heart, it’s that they still want to indulge during old age—and their actions are funny no matter how old they are. The drinking game, the chase scene on the Slip-N-Slide, and especially those professional-wrestling homages—all of them get laughs. This is the funniest episode of the second half of the season so far, all the more impressive because it takes what would normally be tired, generic material and makes it work for these specific characters.
- Anders gives a shout-out to another Comedy Central stable mate, Tosh.0. Y’all are going to have a field day with the state school/cross promotion/product placement jokes in the comments.
- Seriously, how funny was Kyle Newacheck as Jimmy Hart? Counting off after Anders gets beat down by that hockey player was my favorite moment of the episode.
- The Dolph Lundgrenettes should be a band, and that band would make The A.V. Club’s year-end list of terrible band names.
- MTV True Life: I Can’t Make An MTV True Life To Save My Life
- “Aunt Holly has a glandular disorder.”
- “How often are you texting the words ‘Lou Albano’?”