The League is a show about fantasy football. Not actual football, not the inner workings of a football team, but fantasy football that premiered on FX in 2009. A mixture of scripted and improvised scenes, coupled with some talented comedians and character actors gave FX one of their surprise hits as the channel was trying to have more original programming to couple with its movie and syndicated series offerings.
Showcasing razor-sharp humor, cameos from across professional football and crafting its own terminology, which has made its way into fantasy football leagues all over, The League has grown from a 6 season first episode to a solid performer for FX across 7 seasons and was moved to FXX in 2013 to assist in the launch of that channel.
The show’s strengths came from many different directions. The improvisation of the cast and the willingness to make it weird and revel in it, it does what a lot of comedies don’t do these days and didn’t play it safe. Looking at you, Big Bang Theory. The characters are easy to see in your own group of friends, or fantasy football leagues.
Kevin and Jenny MacArthur (Kevin Rannazzisi and Katie Aselton) are the married couple struggling for fantasy domination in their own home. Jenny won the league in season 5, Kevin never has. Kevin traded the naming rights of his second child for a 1st round draft pick to his younger brother, and Chalupa Batman MacArthur was introduced to the world.
Taco (Jon Lajoie), Kevin’s younger brother and CEO of TacoCorp, likes to stack his team with kickers, sing songs about private parts, and was paid off by Jerry Jones when he bought the Dallas Cowboys domain name when it had lapsed.
Andre (Paul Scheer) is the whipping boy of the group, but has won the league twice. He also briefly dated Shiva, the namesake of the league trophy. A successful plastic surgeon, the group constantly ridicules his fashion choices (and rightly so) but also give him a hard time for not being a “real” doctor.
Rodney Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is an unscrupulous corporate lawyer who traded a draft pick with Kevin in season 1 so Kevin could get his client a plea deal. He also tried to manipulate a sick kid in a hospital, who wanted to meet Ravens player Terrell Suggs, to try and meet former Cleveland Browns player Josh Cribbs.
Pete (Mark Duplass) appears to be the smartest of the group, manipulating them to get what he wants. His wife Meegan left him in the pilot episode, only to reappear in season 7 as Andre’s new girlfriend. He once conned Jenny into walking down an alley naked when he tricked her into admitting that she ran Kevin’s team when had made “the usual bet” with Kevin during that week’s game.
A Deep Bench
The League has given its characters a stellar cast of recurring characters that have grown the world around them and showcases how the lengths the main characters will go to get an edge in fantasy football.
ShivaKamini Soma Kandarkram (Janina Gavankar) is the namesake of the league trophy, The Shiva. Kevin lost his virginity to Shiva and briefly dated Andre during season 1. She also used one of Andre’s medical mishaps to get a case study published.
Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas) is the brother-in-law of Ruxin and even more outlandish than the main characters. He was briefly part of the league before being kicked out and starting his own “domination league”. He keeps hot dogs on hand and has a “toilet kitchen” in his apartment, which is occupied by a single mattress and dozens of chairs.
Ellie MacArthur (Alina Foley) is the daughter of Kevin and Jenny. Inheriting her parents fondness for profanity and sarcasm, her appearances in the series aren’t lengthy but still hilarious.
Sofia Ruxin (Nadine Velasquez) is Ruxins’ wife. She only gets along with Taco and has kicked the group out of the house at least once each season.
Various NFL players and personalities have also made appearances and have been woven into storylines. Houston defensive star J.J. Watt has made multiple appearances. Cameos by Marshawn Lynch, Terry Bradshaw, Rich Eisen, Robert Griffin III, and Jason Witten have given a sense of legitimacy to this irreverent show. There was even an episode filmed, in part, at the NFL Draft this season.
You don’t need to know much, or really anything about football, fantasy or otherwise to enjoy this show. Great comedy tends to come from unexpected places and this show goes in directions most wouldn’t. Wrapping up 7 seasons tonight, you can find The League online on both Hulu and Netflix.