It’s difficult not to indulge the urge to just list quotes right now. (And plenty of fans may do that in the comments; definitely have at it.) After a critically acclaimed first two seasons, which racked up WGA Award wins in 2020 and 2022 as well as two Emmy noms last year, I Think You Should Leave has returned to us. (All episodes drop May 30 on Netflix.) Are the installments this time around longer? They are not. They average around 15 minutes in length. Are there more of them? Also no—there are, once again, six—but this ends up working: Many fans have found that rewatches are even more rewarding than the initial binge, and these short runtimes, and a general quality-over-quantity approach to the writing, make it easy to find and replay your favorite sketches. It works in the show’s favor, so they have stuck to the formula. As season three character The Driving Crooner would say, “It’s just too good!”
Though we’ve been effusive in our praise here at The A.V Club (and that continues), this show has been kind of a love it or hate it thing. The situations depicted in this are cringey to say the least. People blow it big time and make full spectacles of themselves. There is also a lot of yelling, fits are thrown, characters “take everything too far” and “get too hyper,” as one poor guy in season three admits. However, even people who were initially unmoved by this show can, and have, come around. As some critics, and a season two ITYSL Tim Robinson character, have found, “people can change.’’
Not to get too clinical about the comedy, but the protagonist of each premise holds some type of childlike logic that the others in the sketch either accept or reject. (Sometimes it’s a delightful mix of both, initial horror followed by later understanding or the reverse.) Like children, they are prone to big reactions, and the best lines and physical gags on display evoke that child-think, down to the syntax. Robinson’s character Ronnie, in a dating-show sketch, exemplifies this. He’s one of two contestants who might be going home … because it’s pretty clear he’s only there for the zipline. Next comes a montage of him, stone-faced, gliding into the pool over and over, attempting lackluster twirls as he lets go of the handles and drops in, scarfing his food as quickly as possible to get back to the ’line. He campaigns to stay by revealing probable lies about fellow contestants (like how a guy named Carmello said their romantic interest’s face “looks like a clock”) and he seeks pity by crying, sharing “When I get home … there’s something I’m worried about, about my life.” In a later episode, we’re treated to a farewell reel of Ronnie, a guitar riff arpeggiating to the rhythm of his kicky little feet as he zip-lines away.
There’s also a childlike optimism and earnestness surrounding many characters. They fall in love with a particular concept, whether an idea they have or their idea of themselves, and they seem genuinely distressed and/or heartbroken when others don’t understand them. These prove to be some of the funniest setups. Over the course of an ad for his stage show Jellybean, silent performer Richard Brecky (Robinson) goes from lilting, “Come with me. Let’s use our imaginations, shall we?” to screaming “Now it’s, like, all frats and bachelor parties! Leave me alone!” The next moment, we see a big, longhaired heckler shout, “We’re gonna go nuts in there!” as Brecky strolls into the theater. In a later episode, Sam Richardson’s idealistic entrepreneur character is so upset that his vision for Pacific Proposal Park, with a spongy lawn for “the perfect kneel,” has been corrupted by wrestlers with names like Toilet Truck and Baby Duck who love nothing more than practicing body slams on the soft terrain, going as far as biting park patrons mid-proposal. Not only does this character say he hopes these dudes die, but he doxxes them, flashing their names and addresses across the screen for a sec. (Retaliation can get intense with these guys.)
If you’ve seen the last two seasons, you may think you know the direction many of these sketches will take (people end up loving behavior you expect will annoy or disgust them), and some setups do feel familiar, but the show still finds new twists on the format. Will Forte pops up again this season, this time as a ponytail-sporting pedestrian whose choice to climb under a car parked over the sidewalk, rather than go around, gets his luscious locks stuck beneath it. Rather than welcome the gesture when the neighbor across the street, also sporting a ponytail, says, “Hey! Who parked over the sidewalk? That’s very dangerous for us,” patting his similar ’do, Forte becomes furious with him for intervening, then cackles and giddily bangs his fists on the ground when a gross misfortune befalls the man. Things also take a surprising turn in a sketch where newcomer Jason Schwartzman plays a guy at a party who uses the line many self-deprecating parents have delivered in some form (“Don’t let me talk about my kids”) only for Robinson to take him at his word and see even the most innocuous reference to the children as his cue to redirect the attention of everyone at the party to some stunt he improvises, such as pretending to ride a dog like a “bucking bronco.” You would think that’s as absurd as this will get, but in true I Think You Should Leave form, it only escalates. The guests love this character’s gags, creating a new problem for him: “I’m the most popular guy here now!” he screams at Schwartzman. All night, he’s followed around by fans and would-be copycats begging for “the next wild thing,” and he resents it.
It’s not all screaming and big reactions that populate these sketches, although those may stand out most at first watch. Upon subsequent viewings, be sure to catch the tiny nods, the looks of embarrassment that sweep across the characters’ faces, lines of background dialogue, and the polite group chuckle that swells after each half-joke delivered by workshop leaders, tour guides, and the like. The range of vocal tones is a huge part of the humor, too. Yeah, it gets loud, but it also gets sing-songy, guttural, and mumbly-quiet. They even subtitle a line in a sketch this season because it’s delivered in an ashamed whisper.
If you appreciate a good comedic name, the ones in ITYSL don’t disappoint. You’ve got the characters Barch Barley and Don Bon Darley, businesses called Darmine Doggy Door and L&L Limos, and the game show Danny Green’s Photo Wall Of Metal Metal Motto Search with its own “Metalloid Maniac.” If you appreciate a good guest star, the ones in season three all hold their own, too. There are returning guests Patti Harrison, Tim Heidecker, Connor O’Malley, and Biff Wiff (he played Santa, the actor, back in season two), as well as new faces Tim Meadows, Ayo Edebiri, Fred Armisen, and Beck Bennett. As Sam Richardson’s pageant host from the season two “Little Buff Boys” Competition once said, “What a CROP!” Which is all to say: Watch this show.
I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson season three premieres May 30 on Netflix