Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

A League of Our Own (Premiere Review)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on October 30, 2009

CJ, Christopher. There is now a television show based loosely on our lives.

No, not twentysomethings watching television and blogging about it. That might be a little dull.

The “lives” I’m talking about are our fantasy sports personas.  For the benefit of our readers, the three of us are very active in fantasy baseball and football (and the guys in fantasy basketball). It takes up a large amount of our time, both on and offline. Honestly, I’d say 90% of what I talk to CJ or Moltisanti about is either TV or fantasy sports. We get really into it. And, by the way, we’re all former champions.

So you can imagine how excited I was about FX’s new sitcom, The League, Thursday nights at 9:30 following It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. At first, I was hesitant. The previews were entertaining, but is this a show that could really sustain itself? Are most fantasy gamers looking for even more time to waste consumed in their hobby? Are there enough storylines to fill a season? I was skeptical.

But now, I don’t care. I was sold the moment the show opened with establishing shots of the greatest city in the world. As I’ve mentioned, I am an immediate sucker for any program set in Chicago. A Walter Payton pennant hanging on a guy’s wall? Awesome. A timely reference to Jay Cutler, with a character predicting “I would never use my 7th round pick on him. New city, new offense. I guarantee he’ll throw four picks in his first game [ha! he did! Obviously, they knew that, but still, funny and current.]”

league girl

Yeah, Urlacher

In truth, though, the show’s setting isn’t enough on its own to win me over. There are some Chicago-set shows I actually don’t care for, like Married…with Children or Roseanne. What’s got me excited is how much I can relate to this program.

There are five or six members of the league that we get to follow. So far, those characters haven’t been developed enough to know what makes them different, except one. The pothead who doesn’t really care about fantasy sports but plays anyway, and actually won the league once by sheer accident. That one character actually covers two in our real league. The two seemingly main characters are best buddies, who have deep conversations about life spliced into their fantasy discussions. That’s me and Moltisanti. One of those characters has a wife who actually knows a lot about football and tries to take over her husband’s team. That’s CJ.

The show also seems to be adding a nice sub-layer to the plot. Showing how important fantasy sports can be to people, beyond the competition itself. One lonely character clearly is in the league just to hold onto his friendships. Another is able to see the problems in his marriage through her objection to the league. None of these actors are well known or even very recognizable. But that helps them seem even more like your everyday everyman.

league ruxinAnyone dedicated to fantasy sports will be able to find the same relateable elements laced throughout the premiere, and likely every episode. The cockiness of winning, the agony of defeat, the obsession over stats and certain players, the difficult task of alotting time for a team. For instance, there’s a scene where the “managers” are selecting draft picks. Instead of a random draw, they each take a kid in the potato-sack race; first finisher is the first pick, etc. I completely understand that urge to apply fantasy sports to everything. I created Fantasy Olympics, after all.

There are parts of this show I cringe at. Like its predecessor, Sunny/Philadelphia, The League is crass, crude, offensive and a little inane. Expect lots of jokes about sex, drugs, and drunkenness. These are not qualities I usually look for in my TV match. But Sunny/Philadelphia does it with such ease and a bit of irony/social critique that you can’t help but laugh. I feel like The League is throwing those jokes in there just because they’re trying to keep that audience. I could do without.

And this show really can’t appeal to you if you’re not into fantasy sports. It’s clearly written by nerds like us, dropping subtle jokes here and there, basing arguments off of debates only fantasy players would have. But if you do play fantasy sports, you’ll be nodding in agreement like a bobblehead. Even little things. Like one of the managers drafting retired Keyshawn Johnson. As someone who drafted Mike Mussina in last year’s baseball league, I can relate.

I just hope the characters become as fun and interesting as the subject matter.

Grade: A-

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12 Responses to “A League of Our Own (Premiere Review)”

  1. CJ Cregg said

    You have outed me not only as a TV blogging nerd (which I suspect was obvious) but now as a fantasy sports player? Thanks, Mr. Feeny. In all seriousness, though, I’d never heard of this show. (Probably cuz I never watch FX.) But now I’m totally stoked. I’m totally checking this out!

  2. B.S. said

    Watched the first two segments of The League. Could make it no further. What great potential for a show (especially for those of us who regularly spend more time on fantasy sports than we do working). But unlike the hilarious Sunny, The League was just awkward.

    I just felt like no new ground was being broken. They made all the jokes I’ve already heard. Basically every situation they brought up has already happened in my leagues – but when they happened did in my leagues, it was funny. When they did in this show, I cringed. And the characters were so cookie-cutter and stereotypical (but not in a funny way – unlike, for instance, Newsradio) that I did not want to learn more about them. I wanted them to go away. When they didn’t on their own, I made them by changing to late local news (or something else with more interesting characters).

    Sorry, just really didn’t like it. The whole thing felt horribly stale. And I don’t eat bread fast enough, so I know something about that. But if the show somehow improves, let me know. Just like Fantasy Basketball, I’m willing to let it have another shot.

    • Mr. Feeny said

      Wow. All right. Clearly not for everyone. There were some awkward moment, but I liked the experiences of our league playing out on television. I will let you know if it gets better…for a sixth round draft pick…

      • CJ Cregg said

        “The pothead who doesn’t really care about fantasy sports but plays anyway, and actually won the league once by sheer accident. That one character actually covers two in our real league.”

        Who’s this person in our league?

      • B.S. said

        This is a reply to CJ’s question.

        Is it someone who auto-drafted in basketball and yet won, Feeny?

  3. Blu said

    Great show!
    This is a show that I can connect with as a fantasy football owner. Yes I’ve been in a league with a guy who magazined up before the draft and did no homework prior. He drafted Troy Aikman in the first round with the sixth pick….

    I found the jokes timely as no one has attempted to make a show about something so many Americans participate in. It was more risque than I thought it would be which I also found refreshing! That’s why FX has some of the best shows on TV! Swapping picks to get a convict a plea bargain was something that might just happen in a league here and there.

    The writing was crisp, the subject matter adult, and the characters have plenty of room to grow.
    I’d say this is the best comedy on cable TV right now.
    Sons of Anarchy the best drama on any channel.
    Stargate: Universe the best Scifi.

    • B.S. said

      Eh, maybe I was a bit harsh on the show. Maybe it gets another shot. We’ll see.

      And no, Feeny, you may not have ANY of my plethora of draft picks. Even after you bartered away your next season to scrape into the winner’s bracket this season.

      (CJ, we won’t even talk about winner’s brackets with you.)

      But really I’m replying because I’m such a Stargate dork and SGU seems at least fairly good so far. Although more Richard Dean Anderson couldn’t hurt anything. And they need to make sure they don’t just try to clone BSG. But yes, glad the franchise is alive. And looking forward to the third SG-1 movie.

      • Blu said

        Yes! I’m so looking forward to the next SG-1 movie too!
        SG:U is very good and I’m glad it isn’t a BSG clone too.

  4. CJ Cregg said

    I liked this show. I liked it a lot. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I didn’t get an awkward vibe like Ben, but it was forced at times. And are football and sex the only thing thirty somethings in Chicago talk about?

    But man, when they were talking about drafting Tiki Barber, I chuckled. I like that I can relate the things that happen to them to the things that have happened in my own leagues. (Not going to mention any names, but someone I know drafted Mike Mussina in our baseball league after he had retired…) I can relate to it. I like that.

    I’ll give it a B+

  5. Blu said

    A relatable show is a rarity today. There aren’t many of us that are surgeons, lawyers, or stranded on a mysterious island.

    I’m happy someone did something original that I can relate to.

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