Anders, Adam, and Blake are so hapless around their dilapidated house and have done so little work at their office that the mere idea of putting them into the formal setting of a courtroom seems funny. They’re wired to destroy that kind of system, even when the judge is Bruce McCulloch from Kids In The Hall. There are a good amount of comedic set pieces in “To Kill A Chupacabraj”—enough to redeem some mildly annoying and juvenile character quirks.
While looking for pool toys to make their first summer party a success, the guys discover a hovercraft at Montez’s ridiculous garage sale. When the engine explodes on the first attempt to start it in their pool, they take Montez to small claims court. Their complete lack of legal knowledge makes the courtroom scenes typically funny. Anders is somewhat humble about not being a lawyer—he didn’t get into a single law school and addresses the people waiting for their court appearance as the jury—but he has seen every episode of Franklin & Bash, which obviously prepares him enough.
He speaks about “Just Us,” quotes nonsense lyrics from “Human” by The Killers, and then whines about unfairness. After Montez presents pictures, Adam gets desperate with a Foghorn Leghorn impression—or maybe Dustin Hoffman from Runaway Jury, these guys seem to watch a lot of TNT—and Blake goes for broke to delay the trail so they can get to Waymond and keep him from testifying as the key witness.
The guys kidnapping Waymond brings out some of the general stupidity and annoying character streaks from the trio. Adam has to keep inflating his ego, Blake is a buffoon with the elementary school haunted house tricks of peeled grapes for eyeballs and spaghetti for brains. When Waymond gets away, the guys immediately knee-jerk to the pathetic whiney white boy fear of getting raped in prison. It’s a tired, immature cliché, and even though the very premise of this show emphasizes just how young for their age these guys are, it’s not a deep well to go back to.
Adam has clearly been bullied far too much in his life, to the point where he’s built up a thick layer of defensiveness and arrogance. He has to win everything and be the best among his friends, no matter what the facts point to. After the guys are convinced they’re going to prison, they come up with the idea to beat each other up to make themselves uglier and thus less prone to being raped. Adam scrambles to say that when he got beaten up in childhood, his face was too hard for bullies’ fists, as though that is some noble, desirable quality instead of simply having enough friends to avoid getting beaten up.
Blake is exactly the kind of goofball who would not only believe ardently in the existence of a chupacabra, but add an unnecessary “J” to the end of the word and try to sell pictures of a picture of the mythical dead creature for $10, or a measly $5 for two photos. He isn’t as detestable as Adam or Anders, but he’s frustratingly aimless, picking up personality quirks as the show sees fit to insert them if there aren’t enough bizarre elements in a given episode.
But after showing up to court after walking all the way from their chosen kidnapping spot by a softball field, Montez nukes his own case. He’s got a picture that depicts the “No Refunds” signs, but the evidence reveals a key technical goof. Waymond took a video instead of a picture of Montez and the guys in front of the hovercraft, and after Montez walks over to Waymond, he admits selling them a broken hovercraft as revenge for never being invited to their parties. This is the kind of situational irony humor that Workaholics manages to pull off the best, when the trio succeeds in spite of its members' misguided actions.
The setups often make me laugh—take the opening sequence with Blake investigating the pool in a makeshift diving suit, or getting through the security line at the courthouse, or the decision to dispose of the chupacabraj as a diversion—but when the series goes for throwaway improvised lines that depend on character personalities, it pushes away and becomes a grating annoyance.
I still can’t quite figure out if Workaholics wants to celebrate the aimlessness of its characters in their 20s who want to eat jalapeño Slim Jims and lie about their penis size to cute court stenographers, or mock how trapped they are in a dead-end telemarketing job with nowhere to go. I’m fine with laughing at the characters so long as it’s not out of hatred, and whenever the show writes to the trio’s worst personality traits then I want to see the guys fail and fall flat on their faces with no last-minute reprieve.
If however, they’re just mindlessly bumbling, then the slapstick nature of the situational comedy that comes from constantly grasping victory from the jaws of defeat is a nice way to spend half an hour, or at least a palate cleanser after the YouTube hackery of Daniel Tosh. Yes, it’s formulaic, but none of these guys are likeable enough to root for if they were to keep failing. And the show doesn’t fully commit to making them deplorable. They oscillate between mildly amusing morons and ignoble idiots. Thankfully, their antics and the trumped up situations those antics get them into happen to be reliably funny, so long as Adam doesn’t try too hard to be Mac from It’s Always Sunny with all the faux bravura.
- Best item at the garage sale is clearly the Space Jam soundtrack that Adam picks up.
- One great moment of subtle physical comedy: Adam stretching out his reaction to brain freeze.
- Did you catch those two dudes with “bodacious ponytails”? That would be The Black Keys.