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'The League' first episode: They shoulda called it 'It's Always Creepy In Fantasy Football'

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Wow. What a miscalculation. The League was paired with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia because, I suppose, it uses vulgar language and has its male characters jabber at each other in loud voices.

But where the Sunny boys actually bounce jokes off each other, The League takes refuge in the male-bonding code of fantasy-football to take up half of its plot, with the other half devoted to being ostentatiously raunchy.

The five guys who are the stars of this show immerse themselves in competing for an annual fantasy-football trophy. Some of the premiere was devoted to their heckling competition and cheerful scheming. This was kind of funny, even for someone like me, for whom fantasy-football is as foreign as playing Dungeons and Dragons. (As TV critic and fantasy-football fan Alan Sepinwall pointed out in his review, The League would have been better if it had actually bug deeper into the built-in amusing mania that such fans enjoy.)

The characters ranged from studiously fussy to genially stoned. The League was Curb Your Enthusiasm-ish in setting up an elaborate joke about a young boy, a football savant, who’s caught alone with one of the guys, only to have the kid’s father walk in and think our hero is a pedophile. We, of course, know he’s just trying to tap the kid’s knowledge. Ha-ha.

The zonked, out-of-it fellow, named Taco (Jon Lajoie) is harmless enough when he stays within his league of pals, but the scene where he sings a self-composed birthday song to a pal’s daughter was just creepy:

The League was created by Jeff and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, who are married, and I suppose we’re supposed to believe that if a woman helped to birth this thing, it can’t be that obnoxious.

But it was. Guest star Leslie Bibb, playing the wife of the league’s chief organizer (Mark Duplass), was treated by the script as a shrieking bimbo, which I assume wasn’t the way she wanted to appear. And tucked deep into the cast was Paul Scheer, an actually funny person on Human Giant, Best Week Ever, and as a stand-up act. In The League, he’s just another one-dimensional punchline: the rich dork the others taunt.

Did you watch The League? Will you watch it again?

(You can follow me on Twitter.)

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