In the midst of all of the TV last night, which was so much TV, there was, of course, the Eastbound and Down series finale. We haven’t talked that much AS A FAMILY about this season, but that’s because we didn’t need to. It was great. Within the first 10 minutes of the very first episode of season 1 I texted my friend Max and told him that Eastbound and Down was a “game-changer.” And for the past three seasons, it has consistently been the funniest show on television. The end! 30 Rock is so smart and Portlandia has a heart of gold, but when it comes to straight up LAFFS, it was always Eastbound. (The show was actually very smart and full of heart, as well, but we’ve got to save SOMETHING for the other shows.) The first season was so perfect that the second season gave reason for concern. Would the show still be as sharp and funny? Answer: yes. Different, but yes. Season 2 was great. The show became increasingly absurd over the years, perhaps, but everything changes, and the reality of an actual Kenny Powers probably couldn’t have sustained more than those initial episodes because we know how the real story ends: the way this one began: on someone’s couch, with a terrible hangover, ghosts of bad decisions past, and no actual prospects. This year went further off the deep end but in a way that was entirely enjoyable. Kenny’s rival on the Myrtle Beach Mermen, the Russian pitcher Ivan, was one of the funniest performances in years (after Danny McBride’s). The funeral scene in which Kenny plays Candlebox and claims to have absorbed his dead friend Shane’s powers is more cringe-worthy than the whole The Office UK including the two specials! (That may be an exaggeration, but it sounds right.) You could probably write a book about Kenny Powers as Cultural Filter for contemporary race/gender/sexuality politics. Good luck with your book! I can’t wait to read your book! (Just kidding. The day I read a book about a TV show is the day I am not allowed to choose which books to read anymore.) But, so, and then, of course, there is last night’s series finale, which was basically perfect: redemptive without being cloying, hilarious and brash and stupid and genius. What a great show. R.I.P. to it.

Comments (36)
  1. thanks for covering the finale like it deserved. you’re fucking in, Gabe. you’re fucking in.

  2. i am a few episodes behind, but in watching the episode i did last night, [the one where he rescues Stevie from Will Ferrell's Apacalypto-style compound] I couldnt help but nearly cry at how the mighty have fallen.

    it was ugly, un-funny, and just a big “what the fuck?” being as there are only like 5 episodes left, i’ll watch to see where it ends up, but I will try to block out seasons 2 and 3 and remember it as a 6-episode flash of brilliance.

    • That is actually the only episode I’ve seen from this season (at a hotel, where they had HBO), and I had a similar reaction to you. I was hoping it was just the fact that I was watching it out of sequence that made it not funny….

      • It’s unfortunate that’s the one episode you watched, since it’s by far the worst of any of the seasons. It’s over the top in an unpleasant way without any of the pathos or genuinely funny jokes that make the rest of the show so good.

    • There seems to be a majority opinion that Season 1 is far and away the best the show has had to offer, and boy could I not disagree harder with that! From Stevie getting shot in the second season (and everything else Stevie did ever) to Ashley’s devious goon Scott, I thought the show really discovered its voice once it began to embrace its more pulpy and surreal elements.

      • Completely. I never understood the grief season 2 received, when for me it was not only as good, but likely an improvement upon season 1 (save for the absence of the incomparable Ashley Schafer).

    • Noooo the best thing about it was how WTF that episode was! Totally out of left field. I completely expected it to turn into a ‘wheres April’ episode and I love that they didn’t follow your typical formula. It was completely redeemed for me at the end with Danny McBride’s genuine laughter in the car at the absurdity and Stevies line “I almost got raped!”

      And I will never recover from Kenny stuffing his baby in the bag because he was trying to get him to eat the lettuce.

  3. So, I don’t really get this show. It, like The Big Lebowski, is something that is beloved by many people whose opinions I value and have similar taste in shows/movies to me, but I just don’t find it funny. I only watched the first season and honestly found it hard to get through. Somebody please tell me what I’m missing :(

    • I felt the same way about The Big Lebowski for years and years. I had no idea why people thought this awful, boring movie was so sensational, and then I finally watched it again and LOVED IT. Maybe you just need to give them both another chance?

      • Well, it hasn’t been all that long since I saw either of them. And enough people I know quote Lebowski on a regular basis that I think it’s made me hate the movie when otherwise I just thought it was not to my taste and overrated. So I don’t think I’ll be revisiting that one.

    • I was with you, but now I love it. This is my journey: Ugh, he’s gross. Still gross. Gross. That was funny. Oh this is funnier with beer. This is excellent. Let’s watch it again.

      My take: He’s such a ridiculous anti-hero that he is a perfect talking point for everything that is wrong with our culture especially in regards to sports and religion and politics and the insanity of celebrity — that it comes from Adam McKay and that group makes it especially good and much smarter and darker and more satirical than had anyone else done it — Kenny’s editorial to Tim Tebow that covers basic world inequities is a great example of how this character is used perfectly to promote an agenda that people who would hate Kenny in real life actually do support. (Plus the people who created the series grew up in that area so they get that characterization down beautifully.)

      Kenny Powers has been a horrible human for his whole life but because he has a random skill, everyone has worshiped him because of this skill (talent?) so now he’s at a point where he 100 percent believes his hype and has for 15+ years and arguably is the worst person to be around ever… then couple that with the sad reality that sports nightmares are actual role models and then make a show where this nightmare person has to actually interact with kids? Kind of brilliant.

      And his advice? Amazing, always. Kenny Powers delivering life advice is my favorite.

      And if that doesn’t work, I suggest drinking 2-3 beer before viewing.

      • I can definitely see beer improving the viewing experience. But I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I need to be able to root for the protagonist of a show and I don’t feel that way about Kenny.

        But all of this is coming from somebody who genuinely loves Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries, so who knows what’s even going on in my brain.

  4. “This isn’t a school shooting. It’s something far more fantastic.” — Eastbound & Down’s Tombstone

  5. R.I. Fuckin’ P, Kenny.

  6. So wait, it’s not OK for you to read books about TV show, but it’s practically a requirement of every card carrying monster to read a blog about TV shows? Double standard, Gabe?!

    Also, that boogey board was totally rad yet terrible.

  7. So let me say that the ending, just like this show, was brilliant. I believe Kenny realized that the pressures of fame would never have let him have a normal life with April and Toby, and that, in his over-the-top way, he had to kill off (literally) once and for all his ability to have that lifestyle in order to fully commit himself to them. So when April says “Couldn’t Toby and I just have come with you while you pitched in the majors?” Kenny had realized it wasn’t sustainable in the long run. He’d always be tempted to do drugs and go back to banging whoever happened to catch his eye that night. So he, in his odd way, committed himself to them by killing that part of his persona. And that, I think, is the genius of the show – to make such philosophical statements while still being both amazingly silly and ridiculously funny.

    • Yeah, but I think that would be more like authorial intent. It was Kenny Powers’s ego, pretty much as large as ever, that decided he needed to fake his own death to initiate Powers 2.0. He made a good decision in the end, but he’d never go out like that without needlessly hurting everyone that cares about him. Which is kind of amazing: he does probably the worst thing he’s ever done, and we couldn’t root for him more.

      • I kind of think that gives him too much credit. It’s a pretty big change in character from what we saw over the first couple seasons. He always had a MUCH larger opinion of his ability and a completely outsized view of his own fame. I’d suggest that in Kenny’s mind, it’s not that he wouldn’t be able to cut out the drugs and the women, it’s that he thought they’d never be able to live a normal life with all of the publicity and fame and attention seekers bothering them all the time. It’s a ridiculous notion, of course, because outside of a select few (Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, maybe Jeter if I’m trying to think of a baseball player), almost no professional athlete in this country is so famous as to have no shred of normalcy in their lives. I have no problem believing, based on the arc of the series, that Kenny Powers would think himself as part of that fraternity of athletes with absolutely no private life. it’s not inconsistent with the way he always thought of himself, and it also kind of makes him a hero not because of the decision he made in his own mind, but because of the result of that decision.

  8. Who’s fucking body was in the car crash????

    Loved most of season 3 but I thought the finale was a little disappointing (except for the hermit crab living in the weed pipe). Stevie Janowski with the wigs and the drawn on eyebrows is a scene stealer.

  9. Shit I didn’t even know they started Season 3. Running to go listen to You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In

  10. Lots of classic Eastbound & Down moments last night (the “Youth can suck my dick” speech in Andrea’s classroom, the pre-game prayer with McConaughey, Stevie’s increasingly amazing combination of wigs and drawn-on eyebrows, etc), but I think my favorite line might have been “I’m in a fuckin’ Cameron Crow movie!”

  11. nearly shed a tear after the car crash

  12. Can we just reminisce for a bit about our favorite KP moments? I’ll go first:
    In season 1 where he tells the local ‘slut’ (forgive me, I forget her name) that he likes her, she’s a sweet girl and all, but that she has clothes “like a fucking dickhead”.

    • I’ve always been a fan of the bird bath scene from Season 1.

      KP: “I’m just mad at my arm trying to buttfuck me back here.”

      Dustin Jr. : “I hated that bird bath.”

      KP: “I broke that birdbath for you, cuz I knew you hated it. Cuz we’re the same. I hated that fuckin thing too.”

      And then about how birdbaths caused the plague.

  13. This whole season was amazing. I love that each season of the show was like one very long movie with very little flab. I honestly can’t get mad at the totally insane bit at Schaffer’s place because it was so absurdly funny.

    Lily Tomlin was great? She was so great. She deserves an emmy. Don Johnson as Kenny’s dad is a beautifully weird character.

    “What you know about money, girl?”

    #grimcreepahs

  14. “This is the only way the press would leave us alone.”
    “Couldn’t you have just stayed in the Majors, and Toby and I come along too?”
    “No, no, this is the only way. It’s for the best.”

    Loved it so much!! Awesome finale, awesome season!

  15. I didn’t care for this season too much. The only episode I really liked was Stevie being turned into a geisha even though most people here didn’t seem to like it. The whole season felt off, the tone was different. A little too over-the-top and sometimes just plain goofy (like when he crawls out alley in bowling place).

  16. Kenny Powers is dead. Long live bleached hair Kenny Powers.

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