Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eastbound & Down, motherfuckers!

Eastbound and Down is the best fucking show on fucking television. It centers on Kenny Powers, a mullet-haired and washed-up mid-thirty something relief pitcher, partly based on real-life former major leaguer John Rocker (famous for saying, as a Yankee, the subways were dirty in "Jew York"). With his glory days behind him, the show details his various dunder-headed ploys to return to the major leagues, stumbling through a panoply of self-delusions, episode by episode. Stubbornly believing that his 'God given talent' is enough to make it back to Shangri-la, overlooking his deep predilection for cocaine, steroids, prostitutes, and beer 'on the reg', always just when getting there seems impossible, he keeps on trucking.

Kenny's only true friend is Stevie, a former high school classmate who he doesn't even remember. Stevie preternaturally idolizes Kenny (how far this love goes into homo-territory is left tantalizingly ambiguous) and will do anything for him. It is here a lasting camaraderie is born, even though Kenny does not like Stevie, uses him, and calls him a 'little bitch'. Stevie, ever the loyal poodle, follows Kenny anyway throughout his adventures.

This show is the redreck answer to Sancho Panza and Don Quixote, the stuff from which classics are born. There is no time duration between episodes; it runs like an epic film, picking up exactly where it leaves off. Like Don Quixote, Kenny is the hero-buffoon. His 'quest' is based on fumes, but you cannot help rooting for Kenny, knowing full well he's an asshole. There's a strong whiff of the everyman in Kenny that makes you want him to succeed.

The show's humor is slapstick, crass, and politically incorrect (because of Kenny's devil-may-care mouth). This strangely intermixes with a narrative tenderness and humane attitude to Kenny's aspirations, which is partly what makes the show so compelling. The bonus is the smart use of music and casting (Don Johnson, Will Farrell, and Matthew Macaugheny(sp?) make amazing cameos). More kudos is owed to the show's very slight to no coverage of baseball mechanics or drama in the game itself. The show rarely goes into any of that crap. Kenny's prowess on the mound is only represented by how fast he can throw the ball and where and that's it. The rest of the focus is on the journey and the characters along the way. A classic is in the making, folks.