Eastbound & Down - Down, But Certainly Not Out

Posted by Miss Ess, December 18, 2009 06:13pm | Post a Comment
When was the last time a show made you cry with laughter? If you're me, it'd been a while...

...Till Eastbound & Down got me this week. It took me 5 episodes to get to that point, but watching all 6 episodes of this short seasoned show from HBO was quite the experience in hysterics.

I thought the whole white trash thing was over. The mainstream'd caught on, we got crappy movies like Talladega Nights and then also had to deal with Jeff Foxworthy's career actually continuing...The genre, subculture, whatever you wanna call it, seemed truly played out on the media scale. So, really, when I first heard about Eastbound & Down, I thought there was no reason for what was sure to be yet another deposit into the rednecks-taking-over-the world trashbag.

BUT Kenny Powers (played by Danny McBride) and his brethren proved me wrong. This show is hilarious, mostly because of how smart and detailed it is. It clearly was written and created by people (McBride being one of them) who grew up in the South and got the hell out as soon as they could, but probably still have to go home for the holidays. These writers have an intimate knowledge of the habits of small town Southerners, and that brings much of the pleasure in watching this show.

Eastbound & Down is about an offensive, hardheaded and failed baseball pitcher who once was at the top of his sport but now has been forced to retire and move back, penniless, with his prized purple and leopard print jet ski in tow, to his (Rick Danko lookalike) brother's house in his Southern hometown. Having to face the people he knew before his fame and riches, his old girlfriend April chief among them, does quite a number on the former egomaniac. It's fun to watch him try to readjust to his new and former Southern small town way of life, where he is forced to take a job as a gym teacher at his old middle school. He decides the only way out is to once again get back into the major leagues, however he can. Good thing his old dealer still lives in town and can provide the 'roids!

The characters are loose archetypes we've seen before (the girl next door, the nerdy principal, the conservative wife), but the show pushes them far past anything previous and into wonderfully idiosyncratic territory...Kenny Powers takes on the semi brain-dead Stevie as his assistant. Stevie is one of the most unique characters I've ever enjoyed watching on a show. His parroting of Kenny and willingness to do anything to move beyond assistantship and into true friendship with him make up a key storyline through the six episodes. The show is produced by Will Ferrell, so he makes a cameo in a couple of episodes and kills as a ball-slapping car dealership owner, somewhat redeeming himself for the shallow crap that was the aforementioned Talladega Nights.

One of the themes I enjoyed most was that the show tackles small town life through the eyes of someone who is at once an insider and an outsider, and through Kenny we see the broken dreams and faux-contentment of those he left behind years before and their realities. And then Kenny struggles with the notion of being sunk into all that as well.

Anyway, overall, aside from being fantastic, this show is coarse as hell, so get ready! Plus, whoever is the music supervisor on this show gets a total high five from me. It's awesomely soundtracked. Apparently Season 2 is coming soon, so catch up with Season 1 on DVD while you can! Here's the trailer for Season 1: