Recap: The League, “The Height Supremacist” (6×03)

“The Height Supremacist” is about as much of an on-brand episode of The League as I can possibly imagine. The league members mercilessly torment Andre (by not tormenting him), they make asses of themselves in front of a game NFL co-star (Darren Sproles), and the asshole-ish prejudices of one of the group creates chaos in the third act (in this case, Jenny hates short people). The whole episode feels like it could be lifted and plopped down anywhere in the show’s run thus far – and that’s both a compliment and a critique.

This is the episode where we learn that another of Jenny’s fatal flaws (besides vaginal hubris) is height supremacy. Jenny starts Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson in her flex spot instead of Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles because Jackson is a big dude, and football is a tall guy’s game. The decision backfires and she loses to new league member Russell. In a prime example of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, now that the gang has identified Jenny’s discrimination towards the vertically challenged, it seeps over into her treatment of Kevin’s new boss, whom she accidentally derides for his diminutive stature.

(Incidentally, if IMDB is to be believed, Katie Aselton is 5’7” and only one inch taller than Sproles, but heels make a world of difference.)

Her solution? Force Ellie to create one of those au courant adorable videos asking Sproles to be her date to her Sadie Hawkins dance, and then invite Kevin’s boss, who’s a huge Eagles fan. This plan is the cornerstone of Jenny’s “Some of my best friends are short!” defense, which never ever backfires on anyone ever.

While Jenny’s descent into being a modern-day Adolf Height-ler hits the right tone between absurdity and meanness, Ruxin’s vitriolic rants against his new Korean co-workers don’t. We all know Ruxin is basically the worst person alive, but normally his racist/sexist/generally horrible stereotyping is swiftly deconstructed, turned back on him, and used to reaffirm his awfulness. But the rapidfire Korean jokes here teeter on the edge of flat-out offensive – not because they should be off limits, but because they’re lazy and lack a cumulative punchline.

Thank God, then for Andre, who is so full of remorse for colluding with Jay Glazer that he’s BEGGING for punishment. Clearly, the best punishment for Andre is “ghost punishment,” where Andre is allowed to stew in his own paranoia and insecurity for as long as the gang can sustain the mystery. He won’t even piss because he’s scared of getting something up his butt (memories of the Dre from “Vegas Draft” loom large), so he gets a UTI. Hoping to accelerate his punishment, he shows up at the bar as ‘Andrea’, and Paul Scheer makes a surprisingly attractive woman. At some level, Andre is so confident in his getup that he brings condoms – but for whom?

The third act at Ellie’s dance is an improvement on last episode, if only because it makes genius use of an elementary school staple: separate tall and short person water fountains. Of course everyone shows up to meet Sproles, and Pete manages to leverage Jenny’s desire to hide her height supremacy into a classic case of Eckhart trade-rape. Then, Andre pees in a fountain, and it all goes to hell. It’s a wonder that Kevin is still gainfully employed at all. (Remember when he vomited in front of his boss in “Bro-Lo El Cuñado”? This may be even worse for him.)

As I said, the episode’s adherence to form is not particularly bad news, because this type of situational, absurd, escalating insult comedy is what presumably attracted us all to the show in the first place. Still, it’s disappointing that in its sixth season, the show isn’t making much of an effort to embrace any of the potential new directions hinted at in the pilot, instead resolving them all in the second episode.

Next week, though: “When Rafi Met Randy”. Expectations are high.

Odds & Ends

– Speaking of the somehow gainfully employed, Pete manages to leverage a fake job offer from TacoCorp into a reluctant raise from his chardonnay-loving boss. However, Taco, deeply offended that Pete didn’t accept his fake offer, fires him from the board – just before selling the EBDB (warning: does not cure venereal disease) to Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban for $1.1 million. With so much Skyped-in Ruxin, Cuban’s brief video cameo definitely lost its impact.

– Very important line on the EBDB sign-up questionnaire: “Do you promise to use the EBDB only for good?”

– As usual, I chuckled at the very, very bland stock footage of football refs in lieu of actually identifiable teams on the TV in the background.

– Because she seemingly aged several years since the last season, I had to check, but Ellie is in fact still performed by Alina Foley, who has been playing her since season one. Fun fact: the 11-year-old actress is comedian Dave Foley’s daughter.

– Darren Sproles did have in fact have a real-life awesome fantasy performance in Week 2, but despite his spot on my opponent’s roster, I scraped out a win. Winning ugly is still winning, at least in a head-to-head league.