TV PREVIEW

Preview of FX's 'The League': More fantasy than football

Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is part of the group whose love of the pigskin is tangential at best.
Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is part of the group whose love of the pigskin is tangential at best. (Ray Mickshaw/fx)
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By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 29, 2009

How is it possible to screw up America's favorite two contact sports -- sex and football -- this badly?

"The League," a sitcom debuting on FX on Thursday is about a set of suburban, yuppie friends who have a fantasy-football league. The idea appears to be to use this framework as a window into the relationships and rivalries of the guys in the league, their wives, children, dogs, bad habits, etc., and viewers will come to care about this lovable bunch of misfits as the season progresses.

Maybe they'll get around to that, but the rough cuts of the first two episodes made available to reviewers suggest shockingly original plot lines: Boy, do guys think about sex a lot! So do their wives! Guys sit on the toilet and drink beer! Women talk at group dinners about the prowess of their own genitalia! Watching porn is great, hunh?

And, oh yeah, don't we all love football! Trade me Peyton Manning and I won't tell your wife you watch bra advertisements on your computer, you twisted freak!

Perhaps the most obvious way is to leave any real interest in the game off-camera.

In the hubbub to get to the next wee-wee gag, the script forgets to mention a reason why any of these people have the slightest interest in football, much less the obsession required to participate in the numbers-crunching minutiae of a fantasy league. (This is, by the by, a competition in which you pick players in pro football, and their statistics in each game constitute your score, and the person with the highest score at the end of the season is the winner.)

Nobody mentions, say, even such hoary cliches as their dad taking them to a snowy game at Lambeau Field when they were a kid, or of having grown up Down South where the sport is a tribal passion, or having played the game as a kid. Nobody appears to be so much as a season-ticket holder.

Alas, no. There's just the man-child Pete, whose marriage is in trouble and is thereby new to the dating scene; Ruxin, whose babe of a wife isn't interested in sex after the birth of their child; Andre, the high-school dweeb who grew up to be a dweebish plastic surgeon who is comically inept at seducing women; Kevin, whose wife is proud of her private parts and who secretly runs his fantasy team; and Taco, the pothead who sings wildly inappropriate songs at kids' birthday parties and is, of course, a chick magnet.

The last is played by Canadian comedian Jon LaJoie, who is mostly known for his low-tech songs seen on YouTube. "Show Me Your Genitals" has racked up 20 million hits.

What does this have to do with football, you ask? Why would you want to watch a show about this lame league when you could just use the time to play in one yourself, or, good heavens, just watch the game?

Good questions. Too bad "The League" is too busy looking at boobs to give an answer.


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