Sunday, March 24, 2013

Utterly Unworth It: Workaholics Season One Fails.

The Good: One or two jokes
The Bad: Short season, Unlikable characters, Mediocre (at best) acting, Dull plots
The Basics: Good for only one or two laughs the first time through, Workaholics Season 1 is a derivative, disappointing Comedy Central comedy series.

When it comes to new (to me) television series’, there have been a number lately that I have been watching, like House Of Cards (reviewed here!) (which, I suppose, was new to pretty much everyone, save the British). My wife, whose former boss and good friend has very different tastes from me, really wanted us to sit and watch Workaholics, based on her former boss’s recommendation and a limited experience with the show when she was working at the bar. So we did. And it was . . . blah.

Workaholics, with its ten episode first season, plays off being on cable television to present characters who use drugs, swear frequently, and are largely unmotivated slackers. I can dig any of those things (though young people using drugs is pretty passé and dull in my book), I just want to care about the characters and enjoy the situations they are put in. After the less than five hours of the first season of Workaholics, I did not. Instead, Workaholics struck me as a second- or third- rate reworking of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (season 1 reviewed here!). The parallel is pretty direct; both shows have characters who are deliberately unlikable doing stupid things that horrify and amuse the audience while trying to push the envelope of what is considered good taste. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia managed to beat Workaholics to the punch by a few years. Between getting there first, having better writing, and a tighter, funnier, more experienced cast, Workaholics flops by comparison. To be fair to Workaholics, the show failed to grab me on its own; it was only in deeper analysis and consideration that I contemplated the series relative to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and found it horribly lacking.

In the first season, Workaholics is a workplace comedy focused on three longtime male friends who all work at the same telemarketing firm. There, they do as little work as possible to stay employed and, miraculously, manage to keep their jobs the entire season. The guys consist of Adam the sarcastic schemer, Blake the dim one, and Anders the smartest of the bunch and, therefore, the straightman. All three enjoy playing pranks, smoking weed, getting drunk and trying to pick up women.

In the first season, the trio works to outsmart the firm’s mandatory drug testing, the day after they smoke pot. They hit on some women who want to go out to a major sporting event and they try to bluff them to get into the game, when they are met by the least likely ally possible. After getting messed up on hallucinogenic mushrooms, the trio spends the night in the office where they believe the office is being broken into. Anders is up for a promotion, which he gets, but then it goes to his head and the other two play pranks on him until he loses his new role. The boss’s brother, who appears to suffer from Down’s Syndrome, comes to the office and the guys take him out on the town. Without knowing what a strike is, Blake and Adam go on strike, leaving Anders as one of the few employees actually working. The guys go to an Insane Clown Posse concert and try to stop a child molester who is trolling on the Justin Beiber message boards. After Adam bulks up to impress his new, older, woman, the season ends with the trio nearly running over the CEO of their company and trying to save the company from the whims of their suicidal CEO.

The shenanigans of Adam, Blake, and Anders in the first season of Workaholics are largely unimpressive and almost entirely predictable. So, for example, in “Office Campout,” it is fairly obvious that the alleged thieves are not actually thieves. It is not that kind of show: it is not a comedy smart enough to make satire of industrial espionage, slapstick enough to make a lousy Home Alone recreation in the office, violent enough to push the boundaries of comedic violence, and as a result, it returns to the familiar – a simple misunderstanding that, after all the hijinks, leads to a quick resolution that is a remarkably lame punchline for the episode.

What makes Workaholics so unimpressive is how the characters have nothing particularly distinctive about them. All three are essentially chameleons to the plot of the episode’s situation. Anders always takes the route that leads him to the near-miss on promotions, while Adam is jealous of that, but seeks to get by doing the least he possibly can, and Blake is too stupid even to scheme. Adam and Blake do a great deal of physical comedy and overt “guy” humor type jokes – especially picking on Anders – while Anders is usually stuck playing the role of the straightman. None of the characters are especially likable and their complicated schemes would be impressive if they did not feel so very familiar.

On the acting front, none of the main cast sparkles. To wit, the moment Rebel Wilson appears in a guest shot for a single episode, she completely overshadowed the main cast. Adam DeVine, who recently appeared in Pitch Perfect (reviewed here!) might get serious props for his willingness to push the envelope with physical comedy involving his own nudity and Blake Anderson really committed to a physical throw off the roof of a trailer in one episode, but none of the performances seemed like more than what the performers were: twentysomethings acting like entitled douchebags.

And, frankly, ten episodes of that was more than enough for me.

For other workplace comedies, please check out my reviews of:
The Loop - Season 1


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Love every season of Workaholics, including this one. To each his own.. :) I know quite a few people who love it.

    1. As you say, to each their own.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!