Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The League: "The Credit Card Alert"

Illustration for article titled The League: "The Credit Card Alert"

While watching “The Credit Card Alert,” I realized that my biggest problem with The League this season is that I keep finding myself thinking “I should laugh at this,” but I rarely actually do. There are a bunch of moments when I do laugh, of course, because it’s The League, and it’s silly, but mostly, I just think about how things should be funny, but I just smile politely and nod instead. I know the easy argument states that the show is the same as always, and it’s just that my own personal tastes have changed, or maybe I’m burnt out or something, but it’s hard to buy that considering I spent the last week rewatching a handful of episodes from the earlier seasons and enjoyed those as much as I did when they first aired. I don’t want to keep bringing up the notion that the show has run its natural course, but it’s hard not to when it’s becoming so clear that this is the exact problem.

So let’s talk about “The Credit Card Alert,” an episode that isn’t terrible but isn’t anything more than acceptably mediocre. It is full of storylines that have the potential for big laughs: Snarky asshole Pete is cavorting with a married woman named Georgia (Ali Larter! I love Ali Larter! Let’s all watch Final Destination instead!), and there is the hope that maybe he’ll get caught and will finally get what he deserves for being such a jerk all the time; Ellie’s basketball couch is a hot beast, someone whom everyone is simultaneously enamored with and terrified by, especially Kevin and Jenny who both fall under her spell; Andre is… helping Georgia cheat on her husband? Wearing a wig? It’s not a good sign when I’ve just watched the episode but already forgotten what the characters were up to.

There are some a few good things happening in the story with Ellie’s basketball coach. Coach Crowley (Erin Heatherton who, according to IMDB is a Victoria’s Secret model who appeared in Grown Ups 2) is a fun character, someone who intimidates everyone by being a stone cold attractive bitch who is scary enough for the children but somehow scarier for the adults. The adults find themselves under her spell in various ways, whether they are coming back for abuse and/or exercise, or Jenny is eager to prove her worth (slash her big hairy sack), or Ruxin is off in a janitor’s closet jerking off to a picture of Crowley (which is a scene that I suppose is worth it for the vinegar strokes shot of both him and Pete). Crowley and Jenny are both really funny here, at least enough to keep the momentum going past the lackluster Kevin and Ruxin stuff.

On more than one occasion, I’ve praised the show’s ability to seamlessly bring together all of the characters and storylines in a final third act blowout—especially because it’s something that The League is fairly consistent at, even when the rest of the episode is iffy. I was hoping that would be the case in “The Credit Card Alert,” but even the final act felt too forced, too neat, too blah for lack of a better word. The gang all goes to Ellie’s basketball game (mostly to ogle the coach, of course), but it turns out that Georgia is there with her husband on the opposite team. When the episode circles back to the credit card caller in the cold open and Georgia’s husband knocks out Andre because he’s wearing a wig similar to Pete’s hair, it doesn’t feel earned. It doesn’t feel clever. It doesn’t really do anything except end the episode. I often love the way The League cleverly weaves these seemingly unconnected plots together in the end but it felt like it was just being phoned in this episode. Maybe they’re going to wait to pull out all the stops for next week’s two episode finale but I don’t know. I have my doubts.

I’ve been cutting the show a lot of slack—it’s much better than I thought it would be in season five, it’s still sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and once in a while it’ll joyfully shock me—but as we near the end of this season, I’m finding myself so ready for this to end already. Maybe not end the series entirely (it has already been renewed) but definitely end this current season so it can start over new. My favorite episodes from this season speak volumes: the two-part season premiere which took the gang to a new place and introduced a new character and “Rafi and Dirty Randy,” the incredibly fucked up but totally innovative episode that took everything we knew about The League and flipped it upside down. The League clearly has no trouble making itself feel new again, but it seems like it just doesn’t want to.

Stray observations:

  • Taco! I liked Taco tonight and the way he thought “Security” was the name of a football team. Good job, Taco! You saved a lot of this episode for me.
  • “Lean In” is “the white collar version of ‘Git-r-done’”
  • Sadly, I do relate to Pete getting a call from his credit card company because a purchase was too extravagant.
  • “Try that again like you’re not in a hostage video.”