Adam, Blake, and Ders just aren’t very good at being jerks. Sure, they’re jerks—lazy, irresponsible, crude, often dangerously, criminally negligent—but not jerks. Almost invariably, the guys fail when it comes right down to emulating the absolute worst aspects of the d-bag, bro archetypes they’ve chosen as their exemplars, heroes, and role models. Tonight’s episode goes a long way toward explaining why the guys, despite their incessant immaturity and predilection for scatology, aren’t insufferable—they simply don’t have it in them to be Stan Halen.
Played by Will Greenberg, Stan Halen is the bro-iest bro in Brotown. Sporting a self-glossed moniker (“my real name sucks”), an endless supply of both Oakley shades (he claims to be a rep), and Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell quotes, and the jargon-y fratboy drawl of a dozen Matthew McConaugheys, Stan is the ne plus ultra of bro douchebags. It’s a committed, funny performance so successful I wanted to throw my remote at the screen—Greenberg nails the particular kind of guy who always seems like he has a dip in, even when there’s no dip to be seen. The guys, disastrously hosting a post-closing-time after party for the frat types at their local (they have no booze and Blake forgot to pay the power bill—oh, and Adam may have pooped in the shower), love Stan, especially when he saves the night by constructing a punch made of half-full beers, Crystal Light, and Ders’ unwanted stash of vermouth (even though Blake states that vermouth “tastes like dirty old man anal leakage water”). Plus, his take charge, Spuds McKenzie vibe gets a few women to take their tops off, leading to a full-on ketchup and mustard rave. The guys are smitten—especially Adam, whose typically desperate attempts to emulate this awesome stranger clang hollowly against Halen’s impenetrable coolness force field. (Stan: “Can we ditch this guy?” Ders: “he’s kind of like a work friend, so…”)
That man-crush only deepens the next day when, the guys waking up hungover on the roof as usual, are greeted my a wide-awake Stan smacking golf balls into the neighborhood (cue Happy Gilmore references) and invites them golfing, an excursion he refers to as “the US Bro-pen.” With his new acolytes in two, Stan orders them to lay in front of an oncoming Jetta (“Jettas equal hot chicks. Watch The League, you freakin’ Andre!”), which succeeds in luring three lovely ladies back to the house where the guys engage in a seven hour makeout session in the jacuzzi unparalleled in its awkwardness. While the guys’ triumphant three-way high five while making out with the pliantly puzzled ladies is the height of fratboy awfulness, their continued cluelessness with the opposite sex remains sort of endearing—Adam and Blake seem incapable of controlling their tongues, while Anders interrupts his getting to second base by bragging to Adam, “Hey! Watch that boob!” Boobs indeed, but, again, the guys’ clumsy, childish emulation of the fratboy ethos is what sets them apart from its most repellent elements.
Not so Stan, who, as the guys stumble out for work the next morning, has already set up to party on the lawn with a cooler, folding chair, and a vodka-soaked tampon up his ass. (“Alcohol absorbs like fiddy times faster through the pooper.”) It’s here that Stan Halen shows his true colors, berating the guys for bailing out with all the sexist, homophobic, hostility of the martinet pledge master. His challenge to Ders, “Don’t be gay—put this in your butt!” and his plethora of nicknames for the anus (“your south-mouth,” etc) bringing the wild-eyed, sexually confused nature of hyper-masculinity to the fore. (Again, Greenberg is so good at this that the character is equal shares amusing and oppressive.) And while Ders and Blake have had enough—Blake’s defiant, clipped delivery of the word “butt” in refusing the ass-tampon is very funny—Adam, ever the most desperate for acceptance, turns himself over to Stan, who claims “all time legendary status” at the local frat house—and who turns out to be completely insane, eventually chasing the guys around with a branding iron and passing out after being dared to drink alcohol-based air freshener. Here, the show pulls back a bit on the frat-satire (“fratire”?) by having Stan represent bro culture taken to its lunatic extreme, but the point is still made—Ders, Blake, and even (especially) Adam just aren’t cut out for that world.
After the kick in the soul that was Harold Ramis’ death this week, his quote about comedy rings out loud and clear in this episode: “It’s hard for winners to do comedy. Comedy is inherently subversive… we attack the winners.” The guys of Workaholics are losers—and that’s what keeps them comedically relatable. As seen in the college flashback episode, there are very few arenas where these guys can function apart from each other, and this brush with the college mindset reasserts that. There’s always something inherently sad about Adam’s desperate self-delusion, as when he confides about his attempt to enter the fraternity system, “I decided that it wasn’t for me… after they told me that is wasn’t for me. They made it pretty clear, actually.” Sure, it’s possible to make a show like Workaholics where the protagonists are boozing, sexist, destructive layabouts who constantly triumph—but I’m not going to watch it. For all the poop jokes, catchphrases, and pervasive crudity, Workaholics is about three guys who’ve been conditioned to want to be Stan Halen, but who haven’t the heart for it.
- I say that the show is smarter at deconstructing douchiness, but Stan’s line about The League is still pretty funny.
- Stan calling Anders “Lego-head” is both clever, and punch-worthy.
- Adam, oversharing: “That’s like a dream of mine, to be a fuck machine. Like I’d like to be a sybian, I dream of that.”
- The guys’ overlapping, unwieldy party chants are tragically funny. Adam: “Pledges! when I say after party, you say…fifteen-twenty Hallman Street!” Blake: “Yeah! And I’m just gonna add onto that—when I say ‘should we bring our swimsuits?’ you say, ‘Well, yeah, weather permitting.’”
- The full text of Blake’s tampon-refusal: ““I’m not putting anything up my butt. That is a privileged area for my first wife only—if she so wants to explore there.”
- Returning to their trashed house and a Saran-wrapped Adam, Blake calls out Stan: “Stan! If that’s even your real name. Or Steve—oh I bet it’s Steve. Or Michael! You look like a Michael man, and I’m gonna be pissed if that’s your name!”
- Attempting to refute the actual fratboys’ claims that Stan is a “brociopath,” Blake responds, “But he’s a stout fellow.”
- Trying to replicate Stan’s party magic goes about as well as one would expect, with Anders’ blunt, “Ladies let’s get those blammos out and party,” causing a mass exodus. His sheepish, “I’d love to see those blams” a sad final gambit. Ders really would like to see those blams.
- Bodily function count: merely one poop reference this week.