Between the roadkill skunk burrito and Anders getting a toilet full of crap in his face, Season Four of Workaholics was pretty disgusting. It’s not that of having gross stuff in the show that was a problem, it was the fact that the mere presentation of such awful things was the whole joke. As a result, Season Four just ended up feeling lazy because of it. But coming right out the gate with “Dorm Daze,” Workaholics starts the fifth season by showing that it can be edgy and funny, without also making you sick to your stomach.
What’s truly surprising about “Dorm Daze” is that it takes us to the type of locale where gross-out bits are fully expected, as Blake, Adam and Anders go back to college. Somehow the episode never goes down that path, despite Adam looking for jizz patterns on what he believes to be a gangbang filming set.
When Alice assigns Anders to attend a college job fair to get signatures, he brings along Blake and Adam, who he knows will just abandon him and do their own things. Which of course they do. Ders’ plan for signatures quickly escalates into him roasting the nearby coast guard table to gain popularity. Blake gets bit by the acting bug, walks in on an audition for “Hamlet” and ends up on a porn set. Meanwhile, Adam realizes the college is the location of 24 of his 36 favorite college pornos, and begins the search to find the room where one of his favorite scenes was shot, so as to pay his respects.
Last season showed the trio working together for most of the episodes, so it’s great to have them all on their own adventures, especially when each is pretty hilarious. Ders gets chased and attacked by the coast guard in weird ways that involve Mountain Dew: Code Red and small dogs (between this and Top Five, Anders Holm clearly doesn’t have a problem with rear nudity). Adam follows a woman with a “female sexuality” book, which he believes is code for porn, and ends up getting shamed in front of a class, and Blake is given drugs and alcohol, as he is forced to perform the porno that he clearly doesn’t want to.
Each of these three plots are pretty fantastic, especially Adam’s—he discovers that women who make pornos can also be moms who make ham sammiches. For a Workaholics episode, Adam’s plot line is actually saying more about female sexuality than the show has maybe ever done before. I’m not saying it’s deep in any way, but hey, at least it’s trying for a little something more substantial.
We also start the season with some excellent cameos, from the underused Matthew Lawrence as one of the coast guard members, to Seth Morris as the extremely gelled porn director, and the original Ann Egg, Alessandra Torresani, from Arrested Development, as Blake’s “acting” partner.
“Dorm Daze” is an incredibly well-balanced episode, giving equal strength to all three story lines and stooping just low enough for its material, rather than being completely disgusting for laugh’s sake. Considering the depraved paths you could imagine the idea of “Workaholics Go Back to College” could go down, “Dorm Daze” is impressively well done. Now let’s hope that the rest of the season can be this good.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.