For the first few seasons, the de facto catchphrase of Workaholics was “get weird,” which made complete sense. Workaholics is a weird show. Yet I’d say this season, it’s sort of changed to “get gross,” even if the best episodes this season have been when the guys are just being weird and not being disgusting. Someone ate a raw skunk burrito this season, and while occasionally the gross can be funny, Workaholics is best when it isn’t. Thankfully, “The One Where the Guys Play Basketball and Do The “Friends” Title Thing” brings the show back to its weird roots.
Even weirder is how straightforward the episode actually is, as Adam, Ders and Blake try to win a TelAmeriCorp 3-on-3 basketball tournament for a two-day trip to Reno. On top of that, this is an episode where they guys actually win. That pretty much never happens. The trio make it all the way to the end of the tournament, leaving only one team in their way—Montez’s team, the “Tezmanian Devils.” Tez’s team features Lynette from accounting, who almost played in the ’96 Olympics, so the guys have their work cut out for them.
They each have their own plans for how to handle the game, of course. Ders plans on practicing, but instead comes up with a plan to get Lynette to punch Montez’s iPad and break her hand. (She punches Ders’ face instead, but the intended effect is the same as Lynette breaks her hand and is out of the game.) Blake meanwhile basically forgets about the game, instead focusing on his World of Warcraft Murder Mystery game that takes 14 hours. Adam is the most motivated, buying steroids off of Karl, but after injecting them directly into his heart, he ends up going to the hospital due to a heart attack.
What I find most interesting about this episode is that Adam DeVine stated on Twitter that he tore his ACL while shooting, therefore leading to rewriting the episode in a day. Yet I feel like this accidental change improved the entire episode. Usually, Adam doing his own thing apart from the other guys can be problematic, but it really works here.
It’s the little touches that really make “The One Where the Guys Play Basketball and Do the “Friends” Title Thing” all the better. From the probably improvised jokes, like Blake passively farting on a passing worker, or the clearly scripted ones, like calling back that Karl was the office’s plumber one time this season, or that the steroids were actually PCP. The episode is filled with little things like that, not to mention we also see for the first time the office’s warehouse that not even the staff knew about. It doesn’t even matter that the whole episode’s idea almost feels a little ripped off from The Office’s “Basketball” episode.
But it’s also just really nice to see these three win for once, even though they basically cheat their way into it. At every moment, I kept waiting for their inevitable loss, like when Bill discovers Adam’s replacement on the team “George the G-anitor” doesn’t actually work for TelAmeriCorp or when Karl, Blake and Anders all break the backboard, I assumed they’d have to pay for it instead of going to Reno. Yet in the end, they win, even breaking Adam out of the hospital to join in on the Reno festivities. Sometimes it’s nice to see the Workaholics team use their weirdness to get the win.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.