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'The League' recap: Putting the 'fun' in funeral

Season 6 | Episode 1 | “Sitting Shiva” | Aired Sept 3, 2014

When a close friend dies in front of you via Skype, the only logical thing to do is hold your fantasy football draft at his funeral. If you’re new to The League, welcome. You probably should’ve started with season 1, but here we are.

The League returns for its sixth season on FXX, even though FXX has only been a channel for two years. Do the math! For those unfamiliar with the show, I’m not going to give a full history lesson, but let’s say it’s about a group of morally corrupt friends who play fantasy football. What’s fantasy football? Ask Jeeves.

The episode kicks off in the middle of a dream sequence for Kevin, who is dreaming that’s he at the NFL Combine for incoming rookies. NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen is doing the play-by-play while several real NFL rookies guest-star in the scene. Their names? Who cares? They’re rookies. No one tell those giant men I typed that.

After Kevin pees his pants from his lackluster performance, he wakes up in bed with his wife, Jenny. After a brief exchange, Jenny finds that Kevin has wet the bed. Look, we’ve all wet the bed after an intense football-related dream. Let’s not dwell on this.

The big moment in this episode is the death of Ted, played by Adam Brody. While skyping with the group, Ted walks into the street without looking and is promptly struck by a car. The gang of friends (Ruxin, Taco, Andre, Pete, Kevin, and Jenny) travel to California for Ted’s funeral. After talking with Ted’s parents and their rabbi, they discover Ted has bequeathed his Malibu beach house to whomever wins the fantasy football league this season. I’ve always wanted to use the word “bequeathed” correctly. Cross that off my depressing bucket list.

Ted on League

Image courtesy of seat42f.com.

Since “Ted would’ve wanted it that way,” a running theme for the episode, the gang holds its fantasy draft with Ted’s open casket. Apparently it’s Jewish tradition that someone watch the body overnight. I’m not Jewish, so I can neither confirm nor deny the reality of this tradition. Jeeves was unavailable to ask.

After an alcohol-and-weed-fueled fantasy draft, the gang is almost caught by Ted’s parents and the rabbi. During their mischievous escape, Taco, played by YouTube sensation Jon Lajoie, leaves the draft board in the casket with Ted. The gang must now figure out a way to retrieve the draft board, or all of their “hard work” will be lost. Doesn’t make sense to me why they can’t redraft, but I guess it wouldn’t have made for a very interesting episode if they went that route.

Quick side note: “Teflon-dre,” played by Paul Scheer, is incredible. Throughout the episode, Andre, who is usually a verbal punching bag, has a new air of confidence about him. The gang’s usual one-liners appear to bounce off of him, and he actually has some comical retorts. Even when the gang tries to trick him into performing a one-man flash mob at the funeral, it backfires. The rabbi gets knocked out thanks to an errant urban golf ball (thanks Taco!), and Andre, who is a plastic surgeon, comes to the rescue. I hope this new “Teflon-dre” is a season-long character change because it added a nice new wrinkle into the standard dynamic of the group.

Back to the story: As they’re leaving the funeral, Pete, Ruxin, and Taco decide to steal the casket to recover the draft board. Houston Texan J.J. Watt and two other NFL players, who are also friends with Ted, pretty much stand by and let it happen. After the three think they’ve eluded the NFL stars, they run into Kevin and Jenny having a little funeral sex. The married couple snuck away during the service after a little draft dirty talk reawakened Kevin’s manhood. The whole gang is then discovered by J.J. Watt, who gives them a stern talking to about their antics, and then leaves carrying the casket with one hand. Hilarious!

JJ Watt League

Photo courtesy of “The League’s” official Twitter.

The gang then notices Ted’s body is no longer in the casket, and they ponder who J.J. carried away. Cut to the graveyard. As the casket is about to go into the ground, Taco pops out of it and exclaims, “Don’t worry. It’s just a draft. Ted is still dead.” Perfect ending to a ridiculous yet amazing season opener.

For a show with a distinct premise, six seasons is hard to pull off and still remain fresh and edgy. The League pulls it off nicely and sets the stage for what looks to be another fun-filled season. Some people might think, “Oh, I don’t like football. I’m not sure I’d like that show.” Trust me: Give this show a chance. The first five seasons are up on Netflix, and they are absolutely worth a binge. Enjoy.

The League airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FXX.

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