Monday, March 23, 2009

A quick note on Eastbound and Down

Last night HBO ran the sixth and what is likely to be the last episode of it's new comedy Eastbound and Down which I haven't discussed much, but Friday Night Lights aside, has quietly been the best show in television.

Eastbound and Down is a comedy that isn't always hilarious. It can be sad and it can be jarring and it can be difficult and this is what separates it from the rest of the TV pack. I've often said that no television show approaches being high art like Friday Night Lights but it turns out I'm wrong as Eastbound and Down can certainly be mentioned in the same breath as the vaunted FNL.

The center of the show is Danny McBride's Kenny Powers a rude, obnoxious ex-MLB pitcher who has relocated to his hometown after being the toast of many others. McBride's performance is bordering on genius and is reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' in the Office in that it's all encompassing to the point of discomfort.

The show will make you laugh - this is very important, but not in the Flight of the Conchords "wink-wink look how cute we are" way. No, it dares you to laugh. When Kenny tells a stripper friend of his that she's "a great girl who dresses like a dickhead" or when, in a moment of raw honesty, says to the love of his life "Listen here you beautiful bitch, I'm about to fuck you up with some truth" your first response may be to wince and that's the point.

Kenny Powers is as much an anti-hero as has ever been put on screen. He's a modern day Archie Bunker and his story has been compelling television that may be gone forever. If you watch the show then you know last night's episode ended on a cliffhanger, one that I want to see resolved, but if it's not I will just be happy to have those three hours with Kenny Powers and I'll be glad to know that at least Eastbound and Down existed and there was an audience, albeit a very small one, there to see it.

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