‘The League’ Proves It Doesn’t Really Care About Fantasy

When the announcement came that FX would be giving us a show that featured fantasy football prominently in its theme, there was plenty of room for excitement and skepticism.

Based on the first episode, skepticism is the clear winner on the fantasy side.

Because fantasy sports are what we do here, I’ll set aside the locker-room humor for now and dig into the utter lack of effort to get real with the football angle that was put forth as the hook for this new comedy.

“The League” centers on a group of buddies who - we’re supposed to believe - care a lot about their fantasy football league. Aside from the tokin’ stoner who has no recollection of his title and the token idiot of the group (who no one actually appears to like, everyone makes fun of and yet somehow remains a close friend years after college), the characters purport to take their fantasy teams very seriously.

One lawyer knocks five years off the sentence of a liquor-store burglar in exchange for a swap of first-round picks. Another lawyer kidnaps the 9-year-old “oracle” in search of tips. The league commissioner has fashioned what looks like about a 4-foot trophy to commemorate his three titles in four years.

And that’s everyone we meet.

That’s the first issue. These guys are supposedly hopelessly devoted to a seven-team league in which only five are available to draft? Really? I mean, this might seem nitpicky, but if you’re going to make fantasy football so central to your plot, at least give us 10 participants. Put some voices on conference call instead of letting one leaguemate inform us that the two “out-of-town” guys are on autodraft. This is not the setup of a serious fantasy league. It’s a Yahoo! public league that has six dead teams by mid-season.

Of course, the number of participants was far from the only problem with the on-screen draft.

The show creators went to the trouble of gathering those few guys for a draft with an official board and everything. The least they could have done would have been to copy a mock draft out of a fantasy magazine. (The preview issue from FantasyGuru.com that appeared in an earlier scene, for instance, would have sufficed.)

Obviously, though, they didn’t count on any fantasy folks with DVR to be checking out the show. Plenty of picks could be looked at as screwy, but here are the egregious errors …

- With consecutive picks in rounds 5, 6 and 7, the owner so determined to win that he halved the aforementioned prison term selected Derrick Williams, Sinorice Moss and Jerry Porter as his first three receivers.

- San Diego fullback Jacob Hester went in the middle of Round 6.

Any issues with the draft were only made worse by a line from the “oracle” about Jay Cutler throwing four interceptions in his first game with the Bears, which proves that the taping happened after the start of the regular season.

The fact that the online version of the draft seems to sneak in an eighth team (rounds start with pick 0) and includes a completely different rundown shows that either someone pointed out the shortcomings of the on-screen edition or the show is somewhat lazily put together. I’m going with laziness, considering Ruxin hurriedly asks the “oracle” whether he should draft Jeremy Shockey or Antonio Gates four rounds after we’ve seen Gates’ name on the board.

All of these football details probably won’t matter to the casual viewer, but if you make the point of announcing your fantasy football theme and then show us a draftboard to prove you’re serious, can we at least get a modicum of work on the football front?

Beyond those gripes, “The League” certainly won’t do anything to help the public image of the fantasy player. Sure, you can find plenty of the show’s crude male humor on various message boards and at real fantasy drafts, but the sophomoric meathead is just a piece of the growing fantasy pie.

The debut tried to install Kevin’s wife as the football brains behind the team, but we didn’t see her mention a single player by name, and it was her husband’s team that drafted the Williams-Moss-Porter trifecta above. (If you don’t know yet what makes that group so bad, the third guy still has yet to even sign with a team this season.)

The show had some funny parts - provided you can laugh at a grown man breaking into sexually explicit song at a 5-year-old’s birthday party and enjoy a faux child molestation setup. Any fan of “The League” will be a person who really likes the often-inappropriate jokes and can identify with (or at least find entertainment in) the way the men interact with each other. It’s a crude buddy comedy with un-clever writing in which we can’t yet tell how much most of the buddies actually like each other.

The schtick wore thin for me, however, before the first half-hour ended, and “The League” has a long way to go before anyone will believe it’s serious about its fantasy football.


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2 Responses to “‘The League’ Proves It Doesn’t Really Care About Fantasy”

  1. Fantasy Sports Business » Blog Archive » Is ‘The League’ Good for Fantasy Anway? Says:

    [...] of how FX’s “The League” chooses to treat fantasy football (or not) in its episodes, I’ve come to the realization that the show itself might be a good testament [...]

  2. Fantasy Sports Business » Blog Archive » Dave and Buster’s Reveals SHOCKING Fantasy Findings Says:

    [...] day,” which even surpasses the Pro Bowl. The other 1 out of 4 represents the dudes who couldn’t find time to at least call in for the draft in The League that their lives center [...]

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