Plot: Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) was once the talk of the baseball world, the hottest pitcher in the league and on a meteoric rise to fortune, fame, and a place among the best to ever pitch. But his outlandish behavior and lack of discipline soon led to a string of unfortunate controversies and unwilling to change his ways, he would soon find himself out of the sport. A few years later, with no prospects and nowhere else to turn, Powers returns to his hometown. He takes a job as a gym teacher, but doesn’t take the position seriously and in truth, is just looking for any chance whatsoever to once again leave the town behind for greener pastures. But his old flame April (Katy Mixon) also works at the school and while she resists his advances, Powers is certain he can get his girl back and make another run to the top of baseball.
Entertainment Value: This first season of Eastbound & Down is likely the pinnacle of the show, a wild and outrageous series of episodes that never seems to slow down or hold back. The humor here is driven by over the top, often random exchanges between colorful characters that are unpredictable and hilarious. The show is populated with profane language, graphic sexual discussions, and mean spirited, dysfunctional folks, which is certain to divide audiences. If you have a darker sense of humor, you’ll likely appreciate how ballsy and absurd the humor can be, while those easily offended will want to run for the hills. I love big, bold, colorful characters and Eastbound & Down is rich with them, even the smaller roles are given distinctive elements and quirks that make them memorable. Powers is the center of the narrative, but he is surrounded by a wealth of interesting people, including some that rival him in delusion and disconnect from the real world. As the show is a machine gun of outlandish humor, not all of the material lands, but most of it does and given the sheer volume of craziness here, that is impressive.
In a show driven by colorful, larger than life characters, you need a talented cast to bring them to life and Eastbound & Down has that covered. Danny McBride has the lead and it was tailor made for his comedic approach, a role that no one else could play this well or this naturally. Powers needs to be an authentic asshole and delusional madman, but still have that shred of likability left, which McBride conveys well. The bold, blunt, and totally removed from reality persona of Powers is the heart of the series and thankfully, McBride carries the show with ease. But he also has a lot of help from a deep, talented supporting cast that is able to make even the smallest roles shine. Will Ferrell channels Ric Flair and shoots for the moon as a car dealership owner who has some insane moments with McBride’s Powers. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to keep a straight face during those scenes, as the dialogue is so aggressive and outlandish, it is just fantastic stuff. And you can’t talk about this show without talking about Steve Little, who is beyond outrageous as Stevie. To say he throws caution to the wind and rolls with the character is a massive understatement. Also on deck in fun roles are Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Andrew Daly, Jennifer Irwin, Ben Best, Sylvia Jeffries, and numerous others, just a stacked cast here. While I feel the show lost some edge and character down the line, this first season is wall to wall craziness and fun.