By Anna Breslaw
Guys! Thank God the Internet means that things last forever, because I completely forgot what last happened on Eastbound & Down. Full disclosure: Like the rest of Everyone Ever, I am coming off the Breaking Bad series finale. (And then, like people with full and gregarious social lives, a “cream cheese challenge” episode of Iron Chef America.)
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While we got a quick bump of Danny McBride’s Kenny-ish routine in This Is the End this summer (“When I came into your magazine, it was a cum for help”), this season picks up with a setup episode: A neutered and spayed Kenny listening to NPR in the Shelby suburbs and working at a rental car joint. Having faked his own death at the end of last season, he settled down with April, Toby, and daughter Shana. He lets his Ole Boy boss bitch-slap him and ignores the taunts of obnoxious tattooed Youngs in the lane next to him. He does whatever April says. He is season-one Walter White.
However, the old delusions of grandeur hover like stank-ass ghosts around the mid-priced Powers home: Kenny has just completed a feature screenplay about his ball-player-to-family-man life, and you can see the rage boiling just below the surface when April bosses him around. He pauses, pushing the bile down, before acquiescing to her: “Okay. I love you. I really love you.” Vases “mysteriously” shatter around the house. “Someone” has been mushing the free doughnuts the boss brings in at work.
Like any self-respecting upper-middle-class NPR fans in the suburbs, the Powerses have an appropriately diverse-but-mostly-white group of friends who come over with wine. April is getting an award for selling the most houses that month at her real estate job. Kenny chafes against the congratulations ‘round the table, as well as the patronizing commendations of his “supporting” her. (“You’re like a nice big bra!”) In the first appearance of Heisendouche, Kenny does an “impression” of one couple’s adopted Asian child, which consists of pulling the skin on his eyes back.
Just when Kenny is beginning to reach the boiling point with his remember-to-pay-the–National Grid–bill-and-maybe-you-will-get-ten-minutes-of-missionary-sex-and-then-we’ll-watch-Frasier suburban life, enter Ken Marino as his former Atlanta teammate Guy Young. As Marino/Guy Young reminisces with Kenny, lines like “I saw this guy drink fire-water out of a hooker’s pussy!” come out of his blandly handsome substitute-teacher face, and it is a joy. Kenny informs him that his party days are over. “The only drug I’m on now is my wife and kids, and I get fucked up on them every single night.” Guy is incredulous, but invites him to an AIDS benefit that he’s hosting that night anyway.
The inevitable push over the deep end is at April’s real estate award event. She thanks Kenny for being supportive, for “cleaning poopy diapers,” for giving her back rubs and bubble baths when she gets home, and he snaps. He parties with Young’s posse well into the night, and the subject of money keeps coming up (“Actually, I only had two Sexes on the Beaches,” he says when someone suggests they all split the tab). Kenny is the only one present who does not own multiple franchise locations. He can’t even afford a pool.
Ultimately, he dramatically quits his job, employing the familiar Kenny Powers syntax of either a space alien or a stoned writers’ room: “No longer am I a dipshit to who I am! Now I’m just back to being a regular to who I am!” He goes on a bender in a toolshed and gets into a drag race with the aforementioned Youngs. He is back.
Will Kenny ever learn that a man cannot be measured in Sbarros alone? Either way, I am ready to do some hillbilly heroin, strip naked from the waist up, and get the fuck up on this Jet Ski.
• At the White People dinner, a white guy discusses “rolling on” testosterone like deodorant to up his naturally low levels: “It gets me to a place where, mentally, and hormonally, I can be attracted to my wife.”
• Plus 2 for April’s hair in her MVP real estate photo.
• Guy’s AIDS charity speech. “Imagine an opposing team of AIDS. Skinny. With lesions. Going, ‘I want to get in you. I want to get my AIDS right up in you.'”
• Um, you guys all know Lindsay Lohan is going to be on this season, right?