Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On the Best News of the Day

So HBO has announced that it is renewing Eastbound and Down, the absurd and crude and bracing television mini-series about a John Rocker facsimile attempting to cope with his own failure. It's odd, because the star, Danny McBride, cannot even throw a baseball without looking like he might sprain several muscles he does not even have--he is the worst cinematic hurler since Wiley Wiggins in Dazed and Confused--and the humor is broad and occasionally ridiculous (the climax of the first season centered around one character literally getting his eye knocked out of his head by a fastball), and yet I would venture to say that this might be the most realistic portrayal of major-league baseball since Jim Bouton's Ball Four. In fact, I could (and will, I guess) make an argument that Kenny Powers, the main character, is the embodiment of the steroids era*, for he is angry and spiteful and disturbingly convinced of his own self-worth (his book-on-tape autobiography is the greatest exercise in egotism since Trump: The Art of the Deal). Here, in the form of a foul-mouthed washed-up relief pitcher, is the greatest representation yet of what baseball has done to itself in the past 15-20 years, and of how the game, in embracing its coarse and insular nature and refusing to address its problems, seems to have completely lost sight of its audience.

Then again, it's also just a damn funny program, and it feels like nothing I've ever seen before. Any show that can introduce with an entirely unsympathetic character and turn him into a cult hero in six episodes must be doing something right.

And with that, I'm f-ing out.

*And he does have a brief dalliance with steroids during Season 1.

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