So is that the worst thing Kenny Powers has ever done to somebody? Lying about his square neighbor Gene (Tim Heidecker) having unprotected anal sex during a coke party at the Congo Canyon Water Park? This is the guy who knocked Reg Mackworthy’s eye out of his skull. This is the guy who ruined his best friend’s funeral and stole his pick-up truck. My wife swore that this was Kenny’s lowest moment, though. Maybe I would agree if Gene and his wife Dixie (Workaholics’ Jillian Bell) weren’t so horribly unlikable? They’re the kind of people who probably have stick figure families on the back window of their minivan. Gene’s smug about going to Wake Forest. Maybe they don’t deserve to have their marriage and their lives destroyed by Kenny’s lies, but how is it possible to feel sorry for them?
Kenny and April (Katy Mixon) don’t need Gene and Dixie’s spaghetti dinners anymore, anyway. Kenny’s job on Sports Sesh is their entree to Charlotte’s monied elite, as Kenny tells April when they get to a charity gala at Guy Young’s (Ken Marino) mansion. Kenny’s speech about April’s duties was full of hilarious lines:
“I need your linguistics to be on point. Talk about finances, talk about ancient affairs… industrialism. I need you to be the Bill O’Reilly of tits in there.”
It was also full of casual misogyny. And the first meeting of Kenny’s new charity, Kenny Powers Extra Innings After School Baseball Camp (or is it Class), was yet another moment for Kenny to expose his own unwitting racism. Kenny and his horrible and inappropriate attitudes are clearly the butt of both jokes—we’re not laughing with Kenny’s racist stereotype of a black man’s voice, which comes straight out of the 70s, but at the fact that this deluded idiot doesn’t even realize how racist he’s being while trying to not look racist and reach out to underprivileged black kids (he even sits in his seat backwards like he’s in Dangerous Minds). Part of me is uncomfortable about how some Eastbound viewers celebrate Kenny and his ideas and perhaps agree with them a little too much (I assume we all have Facebook friends who might relate too closely to Kenny, at least among our Southern readers), but we can’t blame the show for viewers who don’t understand or accept the show’s satirical viewpoint. The intent is not to perpetuate any of these attitudes but to rip them to shreds as hilariously as possible. But this is the fourth season of Eastbound & Down, so if you’re not comfortable with that type of comedy you’ve probably had a few hundred reasons to quit watching by now.
The main thrust of tonight’s plot involved Kenny’s relationships with his Sports Sesh cohosts, and it’s clear that Guy Young might be Kenny’s most formidable adversary yet. Well, other than Kenny himself. Ken Marino’s pompous sportscaster might be tight with KP for the moment, but both men value success more than anything, so a showdown is obviously brewing. Young has no problem taking out his own teammates when they let him down or start to creep on his turf, and there’s no way he won’t eventually see Kenny as a threat. When will Guy toss Kenny out of a dragon boat, like he had Kenny do to Forney tonight, or shoved off Sports Sesh entirely?
I mentioned it last week, but Guy Young is basically just a more self-aware and media-savvy Kenny Powers. It makes sense that Kenny would look up to him—they have the same garish taste and a similar propensity for appropriating other cultures to make themselves look better. It’s that similarity that guarantees the two will be butting heads before the season is over. The outcome could rattle the world of Charlotte-based sports talk shows for years to come.
Paste’s games editor Garrett Martin has never actually lived in North Carolina, but his entire extended family is from there. It’s in his blood.