Friday, December 29, 2017



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If you're like me and laugh your ass off at Danny McBride characters’ raunchy shenanigans on Eastbound And Down or Vice Principals, but can’t find it in you to care about whatever scrap of personal growth they have allegedly found at the end of the season, then Brockmire is the show for you.  Hank Azaria’s washed up baseball announcer is similarly depraved, but his antics mainly serve to hurt himself rather than constantly sprawling out to devastate everyone around him.  Which makes it much easier to invest in the emotional underpinnings of his meager redemption story and surprisingly sincere romance with Amanda Peet’s minor league team/bar owner. 

Peet has spent the last few years quietly developing into the most underrated actress on the small screen.  Her Jules is a tricky role, initially appearing to be merely the straightwoman to ground Brockmire’s more cartoonish aspects and a rote romantic interest.  But the writing quickly, unfussily moves her past that, and Peet’s razor sharp comedic chops and a natural, playful intelligence makes her as interesting and fun to spend time with as her dulcet beau. And while I was initially wary of the romance angle, the show surprised me by skipping the will-they-won’t-they or Sam-and-Diane combative shenanigans and diving directly into a quite sincere, adult love story between a couple of unabashed, uninhibited drunks. 

One of the best things about that relationship, and by extension the show, is the attitude toward sex. It reminds me of another Schwartzblog favorite (and near-miss for this list) You’re the Worst.  Both shows manage to be non-judgmental and sneakily mature about sex, in a way that involves acknowledging its puerile absurdity, but also just how fun and integral to a relationship it can be.  There is a simple truth about romance that most cinematic love stories either ignore or just don’t get, but Brockmire (and YTW) do: when you’re with someone who still likes you at your most absurdly puerile, that’s when shit just might be real. 

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I could go on in more high falutin' terms, about, say, the cinematography, which is not as flashy as that of Legion or Handmaid’s Tale, but it is distinctive and quite pretty in its own muted, sepia way.  But mainly the pleasures of Brockmire are as basic as that of getting a light buzz on at the ballpark on a hot afternoon.  It is not "redefining what a half hour comedy can do" or built to provoke hot takes on the social issue du jour.  It's a comedy that has a heart, a pair of great performances, and is really, really funny and even a little wise. Jim Brockmire may be a degenerate fuck-up, but he did teach me about the fundamental differences between the three types of people ("Rich People are just Poor People with money, the only truly worthwhile thing is being Famous!") and knowledge and assumptions ("like Loggins and Messina - they seem similar, but time reveals one to be completely worthless.")  It didn't look like much, but it turned out to be the nicest surprise of 2017.

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Watch It For:  It's all in just the quality of the performances and joke-writing.  Transcribing it here won’t do it justice, but Brockmire’s exchange with a Japanese translator about an unfortunate, offscreen child resulted in the  hardest laugh and longest corresponding DVR pause I had all year.  With his ill-advised attempt to "pre-game" an abortion a close second.

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