Comedy Central, the masterminds behind embarrassments like Chocolate News, Secret Girlfriend, and Straight Plan for the Gay Man, have taught us that persistence really does pay off. Though 95% of their pilots fail spectacularly (and rightfully so), the ones that survive can be truly excellent. Workaholics, which airs Tuesdays at 10:30, promises to be the next success story for a network that is apparently willing to try anything.
Let me start by saying that there's nothing groundbreaking about Workaholics. Tell me you haven't seen this before: a group of idiots have absurd misadventures that are often serendipitously solved by the very stupidity that got them in trouble in the first place. Variations on this classic theme are as old as the sitcom itself, and include all-time greats like Get Smart and Arrested Development. I won't place Workaholics in that loftiest of spheres just yet, but it is very very funny.
What makes the show truly enjoyable is the level of friendship displayed by the three main characters. On paper, Adam, Anders, and Blake have pretty miserable lives. They're single, they're poor, and they're basically shunned by polite society. But that's exactly how they like it. The three of them are such good friends that they really don't care what else happens. No matter what life throws at them, be it Juggalos, suicidal CEOs, or extortionist 7th graders, they come out of it together.
For the audience, what strengthens their bond even more is its authenticity. The guys act like a real group of extremely close-knit friends down to the smallest detail. Inside jokes, made-up slang, fights, half sarcastic nicknames, pranks, preposterously unimportant arguments, arbitrary rules and traditions upheld with absurd rigor ... they do it all. Even though their exploits often pin the needle on the absurd-o-meter, the apparent realness of their friendship keeps the show grounded. The juxtaposition of impossible situations with authentic behavior also provides an element of bathos which can be quite entertaining.
Workaholics bears many similarities to another one my personal favorites, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. On a very basic level, the shows are alike in that both have protagonists who are heavy drinkers and thus are frequently intoxicated. This belies a deeper kinship though, because it reflects the attitude that both programs take towards arguably inappropriate humor: they don't give a fuck. Wisely, neither show falls into the trap of shock-value for its own sake, and simply incorporates degenerate behavior into the reality of the show with hilarious results.
Tuesday night brought us the second episode of season three, wherein Adam, Anders, and Blake cheat on their usual drug dealer with a new hook-up and quickly find themselves in debt to the Cartel. It was a solid effort, but the climactic farce fell a little short of the standard they've set with previous installments. The season premiere was a classic, so clearly the show isn't in danger of a third year slump and should be back on point next week. Workaholics is Comedy Central's next big thing, and while it might not be on the same level as South Park, it's absolutely worth watching.