Simon Vozick-Levinson
February 16, 2009 AT 11:42 PM EST

I laughed all through the series premiere of HBO’s Eastbound & Down last night. When midnight rolled around and it became available on demand — I don’t own a DVR, sadly — I demanded that thing, re-watched it, and laughed again. I’m gathering Ken Tucker, who called the show “a winner about a real loser” in his official review, must have had a roughly similar reaction. And you? Read on for why I’m digging Eastbound, then chime in below with your own take if you caught the premiere last night.

Eastbound & Down‘s Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) often felt like a more foul-mouthed heir to Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights creation, Ricky Bobby. Like Ricky, Kenny is a washed-up athlete of repugnant character — a former major-league pitcher who started spewing slurs and abusing steroids when his arm went bad, to be precise. And as in Talladega Nights, Kenny’s crude punchlines add up to a searing critique of white American machismo. “Sure, I’ve been called a xenophobe,” Kenny reflected in one of the few printable passages from the memoir-on-tape he listened to in his car. “But I’m not. I just think that America is the best country and all the other countries are not asgood. That used to be called patriotism.” The all-American dude as moral monster: With Ferrell finally retiring his George W. Bush (which Ricky Bobby was nothing but a subtle variation on), I’ll be glad to have another comedian covering that crucial territory.

I haven’t even mentioned the back-to-school part of the show’s premise, which let McBride get in some great “bad teacher” gags — like Jack Black in School of Rock, only without the uplifting decency. But that’s probably more than enough armchair analysis about one (wildly hilarious) half-hour out of me. What did you think? Will you be tuning in again next Sunday night for round two of Eastbound & Down?

More on Eastbound & Down and Danny McBride:
We named McBride “the next Will Ferrell”
McBride was a breakout star in Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder
Eastbound made the Must List
Ken Tucker gave the show an A– review

addCredit(“Fred Norris/HBO”)

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