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The League 

Finally, television for guys that doesn’t rely on nut shots.

click to enlarge Fantasy footballers looking nerdy? No way!
  • Fantasy footballers looking nerdy? No way!

SPIKE TV originally claimed to be “the first network for men.” This was true only in the same sense that Lifetime is television for women, i.e., if you’re the living embodiment of either stereotype. For some reason, television targeted toward guys is aimed squarely at their machismo, appealing only to testicles or muscles.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see shows like The League achieve (modest) ratings success. Yes, the premise is based on fantasy football; it’s easy to see why people dismiss it. But just as few doctors watch House for medical training, The League isn’t going to get you the ultimate fantasy lineup next week. It’s merely the conceit the show uses to get these characters together.

Actually, we see a pretty decent reflection of reality. It’s not a bromance (guys usually hang out in groups, not pairs), but it doesn’t feel the need to have total gender equality, either. The female characters aren’t ignored — in fact, the two wives are the strongest characters (in terms of backstory and outright aggressiveness) on the show — but the writers don’t split everything 50/50.

It’s got enough football to make the setup plausible, but the focus is on the interactions. There’s the guy, André, who everybody likes but gets annoyed with quite often (making him the subject of pranks/friendly insults to help clue him in). You have the core of the group, Ruxin, Pete and Kevin, who are just grown-up college guys trying to figure out the real world (often with the assistance of alcohol). There’s even the wild card, Taco, who can transform from a notary (albeit certified in Venezuela) to an amateur martial arts enthusiast without so much as a thought.

And in that, it’s a most realistic setup. Most people don’t start, end and make time during the day to hang out in a coffee shop, diner or otherwise semi-private public setting. They have lives, girlfriends, wives and jobs, all things that prevent them from hanging out 24/7. That’s the beauty of The League — it’s just a damn good reason to hang out with the guys.

The League (FX, Thursdays, 10:30 pm)


Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time
MadTV, SCTV, The Dana Carvey Show, Kids in the Hall, The State, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, The Amanda Show and Mr. Show used to be sketch shows. Maybe Nick Swardson can figure it out? Though some of the sketches are funny, they often descend into the petty sophomoric. (Comedy Central, Tuesday, 10 pm)

My Big Friggin’ Wedding
This is what a Jersey Shore wedding reality show would look like, if any of those “people” could find someone they loved more than themselves. Five East Coast couples will be followed through the stress and drama of preparing for the big day. Odds are good there’s going to at least one horrific Situation to deal with. (VH1, Monday, 9 pm)

Marion Jones: Press Pause
ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series continues with infamous track athlete Marion Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Olympic Games … only to have to give them up. After denying it for years, she admitted using steroids in October 2007. Now, she’s reflecting on what she’s learned. (ESPN, premieres Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 5 pm)


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