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Arts & Culture

'I Think You Should Leave' Season 2 Proves That It Never Should

Netflix's <em>I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson</em> delights in depicting acts of thoughtless, entitled masculinity — but only to expose the desperation, defensiveness and hilariously fragile egotism that drive them.
Netflix's <em>I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson</em> delights in depicting acts of thoughtless, entitled masculinity — but only to expose the desperation, defensiveness and hilariously fragile egotism that drive them.

A guy so incensed that his boss scheduled a meeting on his lunch break that he shoves a hot dog up his jacket sleeve so he can sneak bites of it during the presentation ... because he thinks he can get away with it.

A guy who interprets a tour guide's throwaway line about the tour being "for adults" as an excuse to ask wildly filthy sexual questions ... because he thinks he can get away with it.

A guy convinced only he can break the tension on a group vacation by launching into a Blues Brothers dance in front of everyone, despite the fact that it upsets the dog and causes everyone to turn on each other ... because he thinks he can get away with it.

You see the throughline, here.

As it did in its first season back in 2019, Netflix's I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson delights in depicting acts of thoughtless, entitled masculinity — but only to expose the desperation, defensiveness and hilariously fragile egotism that drive them. There's a performative woundedness in most of the characters Robinson and his fellow sketch comedians play — a sense of perpetual grievance that causes them to fabricate elaborate lies to crawl inside, just to get through the day.

When those lies get exposed, Robinson's characters generally react with a particularly hilarious species of choked, affronted, incredulous rage. There's usually some shouting, occasionally some screaming. By midway into the new, six-episode season, you'll grow concerned about Robinson's vocal cords.

The three examples of entitled guys mentioned at the top of this review are all played by Robinson. But the series is careful to share the toxic wealth, allowing guest stars like John Early, Sam Richardson, Patti Harrison, Bob Odenkirk, Tim Heidecker and Paul Walter Hauser to assay a variety of insecure jerks (though Hauser bucks the formula, playing a sensitive, sweet-natured guy who refuses to play his friends' casually misogynistic reindeer games).

Beneath these characters' bluff bravado lies a searing portrait of contemporary American maleness that makes 'I Think You Should Leave' seem a lot more relevant, and a lot less stupid, than its many, many gleefully stupid jokes.

It's easy to imagine Robinson playing the various roles those guest stars do, which perhaps argues for the series' consistency of tone and sensibility. Certainly Robinson's got a knack for finding a wide range of emotional colors and notes with which to attack what is, ultimately, slightly different versions of the same, angry-pathetic-doofus character — but it's fascinating to see, for example, what nuances queer comedians like Harrison and Early manage to find as they eagerly play in Robinson's outraged-straight-guy sandbox.

Beneath these characters' bluff bravado lies a searing portrait of contemporary American maleness that makes I Think You Should Leave seem a lot more relevant, and a lot less stupid, than its many, many gleefully stupid jokes. Unearned confidence, unearned power, the blithe belief that you can keep getting away with the stuff you've always gotten with -- I Think You Should Leave lampoons them all.

It's a small but not insignificant part of a greater cultural reckoning that's been overdue for decades. Who knew it would come with this many poop jokes?

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