'The League' creators talk trash, Vegas, and football

the-leagueImage Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXLewd, silly, only tangentially related to sports — these are a few of my favorite things. The League, which centers on a group of guys in a fantasy football league, returns tonight for its second season, and it kicks things off (har har) with a trip to Vegas for the guys’ draft. EW talked to The League‘s creators and executive producers (and husband-and-wife pair) Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer about the upcoming season. Behold this exclusive extra from tonight’s episode:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your first season was six episodes, but this season is 13. How did that change your approach? Was the strategy different?
JEFF SCHAFFER: We had more time to prep, which was a great thing. Last year, it felt like we came onto the fall TV schedule like those girls at prom who have a stomach ache and go to the bathroom and have a baby. Last year, we were a total bathroom baby in terms of press and everything. This year, we feel like people actually know we exist, which is great.
JACKIE MARCUS SCHAFFER: It’s definitely different. Last year was really hard, because we had so many ideas and so many stories we wanted to tell. This year with 13, it gave us some time to do different things. We had more latitude to introduce guest stars who could be around for more than one episode.
JS: And it gave our characters time to really get angry with each other. Allegiances are formed, allegiances are broken — the really have time to marinate in their own mistakes.

Do you guys watch other FX comedies? How do you think The League fits in with Louie or It’s Always Sunny…?
JS: The Sunny guys have been really gracious. Sharing an hour with them makes us feel like we’re Luc Longley on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Jordan would score 50 points, and Luc Longley, this Australian tomato can of a guy, would score, like, four points, and would go out to a bar being like “Yeah, Jordan and I scored 54 points tonight.”

Out of curiosity, how did your fantasy teams do this week?
JMS: I lost. I lost to Steve Rannazzisi [who plays Kevin on the show]. I should have won! I have Manning! Everyone else just…underperformed.
JS: You wanted to say ‘everyone else s— the bed.’
JMS: I did. Everyone else s— the bed. I’m so ashamed of my team this week. But I have hope.
JS: I have two words for everyone: Arian Foster. I destroyed Nick Kroll [who plays Ruxin], and it felt really good.

Tell me about the Vegas draft.
JMS When we pitched the show to FX, we always knew we wanted to do a Vegas draft episode. For fantasy sports people, the draft is like a state-sanctioned bachelor party. It doesn’t matter if you’re married and everyone you know is married: You have this excuse to go to Vegas every year. It was this total wish fulfillment episode. You have our guys there, they’re having a good time, they draft in the pool — and to step it up a notch, we had Chad Ochocinco come in as a special guest, as their sort of emcee. It’s great. Seeing a bunch of guys hanging out with an NFL player, poolside, doing their draft? It’s what everyone wishes their draft were like.
JS: It’s the ultimate draft. Which then goes terribly, terribly wrong for some of them.

Having a draft in Vegas seems like a fantasy, but it seems like a lot of the show is sort of the opposite of wish fulfillment. It’s more about the painful side, the rug getting pulled out, or not getting your wish.
JS: Think of the other people, though, the people who watch it happen!

Ha, it’s your friends’ wish fulfillment?
JS: That’s exactly what you wish for. You wish for your friends to suffer so you can laugh at them publicly. If you did to a stranger what you do to your friends, you’d be in jail. That’s why you have friends. That’s the wish fulfillment of the show: I wish I could literally just publicly humiliate them as savagely as these guys are doing to each other. That’s what we’re trying to capture, what a bunch of old friends are really like.

Do you really want to savagely humiliate your close friends?
JMS: Yes!
JS: Absolutely! 100 percent of the time.

The League returns tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET on FX.

Comments (15 total) Add your comment
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  • Chappel

    I’ll pass.

  • Melissa

    Maybe it’s because I’m a big football fan, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE The League!! I’ve been looking forward to it almost as much as football season. I’m hoping there are more episodes this season.

    • Melissa

      Perhaps I should read the entire article before I comment… :)

  • Nick Blaskowski

    Pass What?

  • warplayer

    I’m not a football fan at all and this show is hilarious. Really looking forward to the S2 premiere. Jon Lajoie and Paul Scheer are great.

  • Keith M.

    I watched all last season’s episodes this week, after the marathon last Sat. night. Still pound-for-pound the funniest show of 2009, bar none. Hope this season is even funnier, although I now only see Nick Kroll (Ruxin) as the overgrown sex-having child from “Children’s Hospital,” also hilarious BTW.

  • Ashley

    This is the funniest show on television! I *STILL* believe that they could stretch their season out longer…After the Shiva Bowl, they should do an MLS Fantasy League so that they can make us all laugh for the rest of the year!

  • taco

    FUNNIEST SHOW EVER

  • Brad

    If you are a guy and have friends and you bust on each other, this show is like a night out with the boys and it captures that perfectly. If you’re not that kind of guy, DVR The View instead.

  • Brittany

    I love this show! My husband got me hooked it on last season. We walk around saying “Just the tip” and singing the Shiva song all the time!

  • HOlly

    I liked The League last year – very on point and VERY funny – but why does every show have to resort to T & A!??? I hope this year the writers remember their female viewers, equal time for the ladies please – less T & A and a little more BEEFCAKE!!! Which means, of course, some extra cast members because the actual cast is, well, less than desirable!

  • HOlly

    AND by the way – the funniest show ever is MODERN FAMILY

  • nando

    I got my 9 year old hooked. He asked me why did Shiva have her first sexual awakening on a gym rope. Any help on what to say? very funny how for a 9year old to say that is a fact

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