Workaholics won me over slowly – a chuckle here, a rare belly laugh there. Like its eternal slackers leads, this show doesn't aim high. In fact, borderless fascination with bodily functions rules the day, governed by the almighty penis, the sight of which is capable of reducing a grown man to stupor. The boys – laid back Blake (Blake Anderson), hyperactive Adam (Adam Devine) and straight-laced wannabe Anders (Anders Holm) compliment each other and play well together. The trio’s combination of familiarity and macho posturing comes off like old friends bickering – no surprises given the three are members of the same troupe, Mail Order Comedy.
In their mainstream breakthrough, they elect to deliver crude laughs with hints of wit peppered just enough throughout to be consistent. The Pilot episode, titled “Piss & Shit,” will probably give you a hint of what you’re in for – if you don’t derive even minor enjoyment from watching grown men attempt feats of exponential stupidity in order to obtain clean urine, pass a drug test, and keep their jobs, this isn’t your bag. Then again, the show only finds its footing three episodes in, with “Office Campout.” “Campout” shows a keen intelligence at work by the writers, leads, and showrunner/s, and one of the series’ most dependable achievements – the specificity of pop culture jokes that act as callbacks. If somebody mentions the 1999 film Entrapment, you better believe we’ll return to it, even as a snippet of dialogue – or perhaps a full-blown improvised song.
The title is meant to throw you off, since little work actually takes place here – office culture is lampooned to a minor degree and most of the show focuses on the occasionally homoerotic, sometimes touching relationship between our three leads, who just happen to room together. The personalities are all stock, but Anderson, Devine and Holm fill them out and develop actual characters, multifaceted white boys with a passion for dreamt-up slang and little respect for social norms. It’s rarely outright funny but remains a show you can plop down on the couch with months after you’d seen a single episode, and think “Oh, hey, I remember this – why’d I stop watching it?”
It’s too early to tell whether the show has longevity – its well into a second season now, and if it had been canceled after season one, frankly, I wouldn’t miss it. It’s not memorable comedy, but has an underdog spirit and a willingness to go for broke – plus a couple of great moments where the riffing reaches dizzying heights of puns seemingly made up on the spot. What Workaholics lacks is outright heart, until episode seven anyway – “Straight Up, Juggahos” works its simple set-up well but wussies out in the end, unable to make the moral lessons stick. If a show like South Park can jump right back into its ass-burgery shtick so soon after a defining episode, who can blame Workaholics?
In the end, it’s not so much promise of improvement as reliance on comfort humor – Workaholics is comedy junk food, and all the satisfaction that comes with it. I can’t fault the show on any major level – it’s unashamed to be sophomoric and gross, and that kind of spirit is frequently underestimated. Workaholics isn’t The Office but it is smarter than Blue Mountain State. Those of you who know just what I mean will get a copy – the rest, well, there’s simply better television out there. Go forth and watch.
DVD Bonus Features
This is what I’m talking about - let’s start things off with an audio commentary for all ten episodes by the leads and showrunner Kevin Etten on both discs. Disc 2 features the rest – 7 minutes of deleted scenes, 8 minutes of alternate takes, 3 cast interviews, a live Bonnaroo set topping off at 6 minutes, 2 extended song cuts, 11 minutes of digital web somewhat related to the show, and… “Shart Stories.” You’re welcome to figure that last one out.
"Workaholics: Season One" is on sale October 11, 2011 and is not rated. Comedy, Television. Directed by Tristram Shapeero, Kyle Newacheck. Written by David King, Brian Keith Etheridge. Starring Blake Anderson, Anders Holm, Adam Devine.