Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Man, The Myth, The Legend...unfortunately

So I have a deep, dark secret to tell: I would love to be Kenny Powers.  No, I don't think he's a good person, nor a role model, nor anything admirable.  But man, to get away with that much for that long, and still get the girl?  Not that April's a catch or anything.  But still.  (Yeah, I'm in a little bit of a weird place this time around; whatcha gonna do?)

But to wit, and to take us back to the beginning: Kenny Powers was a wunderkind pitcher who flushed it all down the drain with drugs and alcohol and every other possible addiction.  When we start in the first season, he tries to come back from being a gym teacher; from there, he gets the girl a first time, leaves her and goes to Mexico because he can't deal, goes back home, "deals" with the perils of single fatherhood, fakes his death, and then gets the girl again.  All in a trademarked outlandish, politically incorrect fashion.

There's some skill to this story: take a guy who's basically the biggest douchebag you'll ever meet, and make you root for him.  In spite of his casual racism and sexism and constant drug use (when his "best friend" ODs on cocaine in the third season, he makes sure he snorts up all of the rest of the drugs before moving on to clean the place up and steal the guy's car), you want to see him succeed.

That's an idea I've been wrestling with a lot: rooting for heavily flawed lead characters.  Whether it be mob movies, noir writing, or whatever else, all of us, at one point or another, want the protagonist, awful as he is, to make it out at least a little bit okay.  In many cases, it's because we see at least a little of ourselves in the characters.  But in this case, I think it's because Kenny has cast himself as the hero, and everybody else reinforces it, especially Stevie.  It helps that every single one of Kenny's enemies is even worse than Kenny is, especially Will Ferrell's Ashley Schaefer.  Man, what a JERK.

So yeah, Eastbound & Down: the hilarious show about one of the worst people you'd ever have the misfortune to meet.  Highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart.

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