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

Winners take all and lose all in series finale of The League

Illustration for article titled Winners take all and lose all in series finale of The League

Comedy as a tool is a wonderful thing. It humanizes and bridges—one shared laugh does more to bond people than countless hours spent together ever will. So, while The League may have been “just a dumb show about dumb friends being dumb,” it managed usefulness in its inanity: How many frat bros have I argued with, laughingly, about one Kevin-Jenny plot line or another? Or gotten to show a video of Jon Lajoie’s irreverent musical comedy; invited to Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel’s show at the UCB theater? How many football games have I watched with near-strangers because I became genuinely interested in the periphery action of a comedy show? And how many of those by-now-less-than-strangers did I get into watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the general idea of improvised comedy? I’m not saying The League solved the Palestine-Israeli conflict, but as a meeting point for the testosterone-fueled and comedy nerd, it proved fertile ground.

In it’s final episode, The League manages an almost eerily pitch-perfect above average blend of bro-humor and carefully crafted bits: There’s dicks and balls and tits, but also brains, and the tiniest—tiniest—bit of heart.

We open on a marriage announcement from Mandre, who’ve eloped to Mexico now that they’re having a baby together. The re-introduction of Meeghan feels deserved for Andre, who literally only wants someone to love him (frankly, I think he’d settle for “like”). At their baby’s gender-shower–itself so perfectly horrible in the “leave you speechless” way–we get to say bye to a few faces, including The Sex Addict and The Dretones. Taco announces that he’s mysteriously disappearing, in a nice anti-sendoff to the character. He bounces back in and out of the episode, clearly not going anywhere anytime soon (…or is he? No, nah, he’s not). It’s also here where Ruxin makes his discovery that the baby Meeghan carries may in fact be a Pete Eckheart original, but more on that in a bit.

In a Rafi-heavy season, there’s nice restraint show in his employment throughout the finale. His true love Margaret and he share a tearful, semen-full goodbye; at one point he provides a startling voice of reason when he asks if Ruxin is already dating so soon after Sofia’s death (or finger-blasting, or mouth-kissing, or whatever the kids are calling it now). There’s a deftness to Rafi’s character that’s been lost recently, and it’s on a positive note that he makes an exit.

Pete’s Draft King exploits, too, are lightly utilized. At the tournament, he keeps trying to engage his fellow Leaguers with lighthearted discussion and horribly offensive insults. They whole-heartedly reject his fraternal advances, leaving him to sit in awkward, unfriendly silence. There’s a point that could’ve been hammered here, that it’s the camaraderie and relationships within the league that made it special, or even a greater meta-critique of the direction fantasy football has taken in general, from friends on a couch to a monetized, corporate behemoth. But these heavier points are merely grazed; Pete wins a million dollars, but finds himself decidedly pissed winning The Sacko.

As everyone takes to the stage to offer tribute to Lord Shiva–in yet another sacred place they’ve finagled their way into–Jenny is horrified to learn she’s lost the fertility bowl. As she storms away, it’s time for the real moment of truth: The winner of the final Shiva. It’s a tie between Ruxin and the coin, the most tie-est of ties possible, and the decision comes down to a flip of said coin, despite Ruxin’s calls of coin collusion. In the end, the coin takes it. While Kevin’s off looking for Jenny, she rushes back onstage, throwing The Snip and, well, snipping Kevin. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why Kevin had to lose both his balls–beyond that fact that, again, a tubal ligation is way riskier than a vasectomy. I would love for someone to elucidate in the comments!


The unborn baby’s true parentage is the one questionable aspect of the finale. While this is a show about despicable people, it’s always a little too despicable when the future happiness and well-being of a kid gets put on the line. But as the attention shifts from Mandre’s spawn to Ruxin‘s conscious-tinkering over telling the truth, it’s a little easier to laugh. A lot easier, actually, once Larry David shows up as Future Ruxin, delivering an even better impression than his Bernie Sanders. It’s in this dream sequence that the show flashes all of its shiniest parts: tonally perfect characterization a la Ruxin’s “worst case” scenarios for his friends, the commitment to Shiva and Fantasy Football that supersedes any male ego, and a, frankly, whimsical couple moments between Kroll and David. And, although worrisome as it may be to introduce the idea of a kid growing up with a time bomb of a secret in his family, Ruxin’s ultimate decision to keep it to himself–Andre’s happy to be a father, and it’s not Ruxin’s place to reveal the truth–says a lot about The League’s low-key commitment to friendship and integrity…. So does the league’s decision to leave a video message for Andre’s son, 18 years into the future, joyously welcoming him to the league, and introducing him to his real dad.

There’s a laissez-faire undercurrent to The League’s finale in regards to itself as a whole, as if shrugging casually at the viewer in a “so what?” way. But not rudely, or dismissively; kind of like a due who doesn’t want you to know how hard he tried. There’s something really sweet in the final victory being assigned to random chance (since, really, as a TV show it was all essentially “random” anyways, being a pre-fabricated contest). It was never about winning, really, but about six friends and the lives they built, and shared, and occasionally destroyed. But, like, *awkward cough* mostly though, it was totally about winning *straightens jersey* like, for sure.


Stray observations

  • Tis the end of the EBDBB&B: “This is from smoking in bed.” “You were smoking in bed? “No it was the pony weren’t you listening to me?”
  • A nice nod to Kevin’s pubes joint
  • The term “Spelunked in the same cave” can legally be employed as a contraceptive
  • I’m sorry but in another world, Andre and Meegan would be the fucking best. Rich and too-sincere people do the wildest stuff why do you think there’s a hotel made of ice somewhere in the world?
  • Taco’s casual thanking of “Ruspin,” and Kroll’s deflated, “Ok bye later.”
  • Taco: “I neutral you least.” Optimistic Andre: “So more towards like.”
  • This marks the third time I’ve heard the phrase “bing-bango” today
  • Rafi is the like the anti-Kramer
  • And a nice nod to Andre’s shake weight!
  • “What about when ‘Andre’s’ baby has hair and is hot?” - My note, upon learning that Pete is the father
  • Now this is the f*cking show man! Larry David as a guardian angel?! That’s the kind of good content people want to see!
  • Starting a fan page dedicated to Ruxin’s giggle
  • Andre fumbling with the smart TV–technology can improve as much as it wants but it’s still gonna be annoying to deal with. Imagine trying to swipe all those screens in Minority Report, man, like, my iPhone screen barely reacts half the time.
  • “Welcome to the league, buddy.”