This season has been a dire one for new comedy series.
Except Ben & Kate (a mildly amusing FOX show with a great cast that certainly deserved a better fate than a production shutdown with no warning) and Go On (a rather funny NBC series reminiscent of Community with an excellent ensemble and a smart writing), nothing had caught my eye in the first part of the season.
That all changed January 17, for two reasons. First, Adult Swim's Newsreaders started, and while the show is uneven (that's the risk with this concept of parodying investigations from 60 Minutes-like shows), it's original and most of the time pretty funny (props to the up-and-coming Ray Wise). And also, Legit commenced on FX.
Quite simply, Legit would be far and away the best midseason new show if it weren't for… The Americans, another FX series, how about that ? Well, I want to make the point that FX are still the best at producing original TV series, but I must mention House of Cards, one of the very best new series of the season, but it's not TV - and this time it's not HBO's slogan, it actually is not, so FX still wins.
If you don't know Legit, it's simple : it's about the life of Jim Jefferies, an Australian stand-up comedian in his 30s. He's friends with Steve, who he met as an exchange student. Steve has a brother in a wheelchair, Billy, who has muscular dystrophy. And we follow their adventures as they tackle different, simple subjects : disease, life, death, job, family, etc. And the writing is just great, it has this dark edge but when you scratch a little, you find a big heart (okay, that sounds cheesy, something this show never is). I had no idea who Jefferies was, or what his act was like, but I love it, and trust me, you should try the show.
Despite what you may think, it's never crass or vulgar, it's always subtle, funny and sweet. The writing never looks down on DJ Qualls' crippled character, but they're not afraid of pulling punches to him either, they make fun of him but the handicap in itself is never the butt of a joke, Billy is an excellent character. There are a few dramatic situations but it remains a comedy at all times, it never goes too dark. It's definitely more 'accessible' than Louis CK's UFO of a show, to which I foolishly assumed Legit would be similar, because it's a low-budget FX comedy starring a stand-up comedian in a fictionalized version of his life.
Now, having seen the show, if I had a gun on my head and someone asked me to compare it to another FX comedy, I'd say it's much closer to Wilfred (pot smoking + buddy dynamic + stories about simple themes) but the truth is, Legit is strong enough to have an identity of its own. But I would also like to compliment this show for making me think of Curb your Enthusiasm : that's high praise coming from me, as I adore Larry David's show, and Jim Jefferies sometimes has the same vibe as LD (the entire 4th episode, from the restaurant opening to the airplane scenes, is a perfect example of that awesome nitpicking of social conventions).
I had no idea I would enjoy this show this much. Anyway, regarding the episode airing tonight, of which I had the pleasure of watching the screener, it focuses on Billy & Steve's mother, Janice. During the moments she appeared her in the previous 7 episodes, she seemed a bit mean (with a particular hatred towards Jim), and this episode delves into what it's like in her home. I won't say more, but it makes you feel more sympathetic toward her character and yet the show is the farthest thing from melo-dramatic, it's just human. No need to say more about the core of the story, you'll have to watch the episode (and, preferably, episodes 1 to 7 before that).
Written by Peter O'Fallon (also director), Rick Cleveland and Jim Jefferies, the show stars Jefferies as himself alongside Dan Bakkedahl (as Steve, Jim's friend) and DJ Qualls (as Billy, Steve's brother). Recurring characters include Steve & Billy's mother Janice (Mindy Sterling), nurse Ramona (Sonya Eddy), Jim's girlfriend Peggy (Ginger Gonzega) and mental patient Rodney (Nick Daley).
Legit airs Thursdays at 10:30pm on the best TV network (FX), following the fourth season of Archer.
So watch this show, preferably live, it's not like it's a big hit, it actually could use more viewers (especially if you have a Nielsen box - yes, I'm talking to you, Mrs. Unicorn). I truly hope FX sees the quality of this show, and its low cost, and renews it for another season. It truly deserves it, and since FX has made a name for itself as being the home of quality original series, I have no doubt they will let Jim Jefferies tell more of these simple, well-crafted stories about these lovable anti-heroes.
Episode 1.08 : 15/20.
Season 1 so far : 16/20.
My favorite comedies : Arrested Development, Curb your Enthusiasm, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, Seinfeld, Party Down, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks & Rec, Raising Hope, Better Off Ted, The Comeback, Bored to Death, The League, Eastbound & Down, etc.
Legit - Episode 1.08 - Hoarders - Advanced, non-spoilerly review (and also why you should watch this show)
Posted by Bunky Bunk at Friday, March 08, 2013 2 Comments
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