Type keyword(s) to search

Features

I Think You Should Leave Season 2 Doesn't Disappoint

Tim Robinson's absurd sketch show returns to Netflix a cultural phenomenon.
  • Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave. (Photo: Netflix)
    Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave. (Photo: Netflix)

    It's been more than two years since the first season of I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson dropped on Netflix, and even if you haven't watched (or even heard of) the show, you've likely stumbled across images from some of its most absurd sketches. If you've ever been on a text chain where someone posts a gif of a mustachioed senior citizen waving his hand in front of his face with the caption "STINKY!," you've been touched by ITYSL's "focus group" sketch. Not long after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar replied to a disingenuous ExxonMobil tweet about climate change with a screen shot of Robinson in a hot dog costume captioned "We're all trying to find the guy who did this," comic Kath Barbadoro wrote an essay for Vulture about why that frame of the show was so useful in this political moment. A game show parody revolving around a costumed character named Chunky, a brunch attended by the only woman alive who doesn't know how to write a cute Instagram caption: the show's six-episode first season was absolutely loaded with moments that have become part of the pop cultural lexicon. And with each episode clocking in at just 18 minutes or less, rewatching the whole thing takes no time at all. Has my household watched it at least four times, including occasions when we've demanded that guests who hadn't watched it rectify that immediately? Yes. Yes we have.

    The show's sketches range widely in subject matter, from a surprisingly contentious infant popularity contest to a house that's decorated exclusively with Garfield memorabilia, with many stops in between. One motif that runs through ITYSL is the protagonist who's screwed up, knows it, gets called out on it, but refuses to back down. There is and always has been lots of comedy to be made at the expense of stubborn, arrogant idiots, but as played by Tim Robinson, these figures are less infuriating than they are pathetic.

    One situation: a man and woman out on a date are sharing a platter of nachos when he notices (or decides) that she has eaten all of the most loaded chips. A stock comedy blowhard would just call her on it directly, probably driving her to end their date in rage and disgust. But Robinson's character decides the play is to tattle on her to their server, asking him to tell her that she's violating the restaurant's rule on nacho topping equity. She correctly guesses what her date has done and the server confirms her suspicions. As his date calmly confronts him, Robinson's character keeps gasping "What?!" in an increasingly high-pitched voice. Toxic masculinity as a topic of pop cultural concern has also been extensively explored; Robinson and his co-creator Zach Kanin deserve credit for showing that beta males are not immune.

    Without spoiling individual sketches, I can report that the self-inflicted pain of generally timid men who experience periodic and ill-timed flashes of conviction remains a theme in Season 2, beautifully realized by Robinson, Kanin and their crack staff of writers, including Patti Harrison (who also returns on camera), A.P. Bio creator Mike O'Brien (who appears in a sketch as well), SNL alumnus Brooks Wheelan, and ex-Last Man On Earth writer John Solomon. As with Season 1, we see doomed business ideas in the worlds of apparel, media, and live entertainment; there are awkward situations in restaurants and at parties; and the office continues to be a minefield for characters who are highly sensitive to social discomfort.

    New faces this season include Bob Odenkirk, John Early, Paul Walter Hauser, Danny Nucci, and Julia Butters; in addition to Harrison, Season 1 guest stars Sam Richardson, Tim Heidecker, Conner O'Malley, Gary Richardson, and Brandon Wardell all return. (Sadly we don't get a repeat engagement from Steven Yeun, possibly because his Season 1 character, Jacob, is still incarcerated for fatally poisoning someone with a feces-tainted gift receipt.)

    There are still just so many reasons to love I Think You Should Leave. One is that, as Barbadoro noted in her essay, it's not topical; it won't remind you of the worst of current events the way late-night monologue jokes or SNL cold opens so often do. Another is that the episodes are short, and so, generally, are the sketches (though some do go absurdly long so that you lose the joke and then find it again). Finally, and most importantly, it is so dumb. It's preposterously idiotic. It's pure silliness. It's unquestionably the Baby of the Year.

    I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson Season 2 drops on Netflix Tuesday July 6th.

    Writer, editor, and snack enthusiast Tara Ariano is the co-founder of Television Without Pity and Fametracker (RIP). She co-hosts the podcasts Extra Hot Great and Again With This (a compulsively detailed episode-by-episode breakdown of Beverly Hills, 90210), and has contributed to New York, the New York Times magazine, Vulture, Decider, Salon, and Slate, among many others. She lives in Austin.

    TOPICS: I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, Netflix, Bob Odenkirk, Brooks Wheelan, Danny Nucci, John Early, John Solomon, Julia Butters, Patti Harrison, Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Richardson, Tim Heidecker, Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin