The premise of The League is simple. Five fully grown men play fantasy football, mock each other and deal with the hurdles life throws at them. If you know nothing about American football, never fear: this show can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates grown-up frat-boy comedy (in the Will Ferrell comedic sense), with plenty of part-improvised smutty humour as the men try to shirk their responsibilities in terms of career and family.
The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. US actor and director Mark Duplass (top right) plays Pete Eckhart, one of the more tactical players in the league, who has already been crowned league champion three times. So why should you watch it? We asked Duplass for the hard sell.
It feels as though the show really clicks in the second season. Is it easier now everyone is comfortable with each other? It’s funny. We talked about this on the first day of shooting – it felt like we’d never left. It was a year later, but we felt like we were just doing it yesterday. I think that speaks for the comfort level. We’ve become much closer friends. We know each other’s rhythms and ways, probably a lot better now than we did when we were just starting the first season. Also, Jackie [Marcus] and Jeff [Schaffer, creators] know how to write for us now. They know what to give us and what we do well. So the whole thing is growing from a lot of angles.
As you say, Jackie and Jeff have learned to write for your voice. How has the character of Pete evolved during the show? Pete is an interesting character, because he’s kind of unflappable. He doesn’t put in a lot of effort and he does really well in the league. But after he goes through his divorce, we discovered something that I can bring to this character. He seems unflappable, but there’s a definite fallibility there. I’ve made my career as an actor and writer-director on the foibles and the loveable losers of the world, so you’re going to see more of Pete’s buttons this season.It will take him from being calm, cool and collected into a s***storm.
Do the characters have room to grow as people, or do the writers want to keep them steady? We talk about that a lot, because it’s a situational show. Pete is Pete, in a lot of ways, and that’s true for all of the characters. But it’s been interesting for my character, having the divorce finalised in the first season and now trying to go back into the dating pool and seeing what that’s like to be single. So while his life situation is that he’s ‘dating’, there is a little bit of growth there in terms of ‘where do I fit in here?’ But the essence of The League is the relationship between these guys and those dynamics. While they expand and have their little changes, they’re pretty much set in stone.
We know that Pete left his wife at the end of season one. Will there be a new love interest for him this season? Pete is definitely on the loose, but he’s so confident and so great at fantasy football that if you didn’t know him too well, you’d think that he carried that through every other aspect of his life. But that’s really not the case. He’s basically a whizz of the virtual gridiron and a loser at everything else. So he gets himself out into the dating world and has absolutely no idea what to do. He’s been married for a while and he’s clueless. A lot of it is Pete trying to make his way through the dating scene, while the guys give him some good advice and some horrible advice as he tries to find someone to connect with. It’s pretty fun for me.
The League season 2 debuts on May 30 at 8pm on OSN Comedy.