If you had asked me to review JUST the pilot episode of FX's new comedy Legit immediately after watching it, it would probably look something like this:
"Australian comedian Jim Jefferies stars as a version of himself in this obvious attempt to replicate the unpolished heroism of Louie. But instead of the relatable, existential dilemmas that make Louie one of the most observant and personal series on television, Legit is a menagerie of masturbation jokes in a cloud of purple haze, with its value and emotion completely dependent on your opinion of Mumford & Sons' "The Cave," which provides the score for a road trip scene that's somehow supposed to help the episode mature."
Ugh thank the lord of pseudo-intellectualism that I don't actually write like that. Anyway, I initially watched the pilot out of genuine curiosity and with no work-strings attached about a month ago, dismissed it as boys' club potty humor, and switched over to some Archer DVDs. But in revisiting Legit this week to write a review, I recognize that I was either having a bad day the first time I watched it or I was dumb.
Legit is trying to be Louie in some sense, whether consciously or not. Jim is a moderately successful comedian who lives a life he can't seem to control, so he's trying to do something about it. The humor, which includes a tirade about the benefits of marrying a dying woman, is pitch black. And the set-up is free of the typical sitcom structure, proving that comedy doesn't have to always hit marks or include 10 jokes per page. But most importantly—and I didn't really get this in the pilot, but started to see it in the next two episodes—the show has good intentions behind its filthy exterior.
Of all of FX's comedies, Legit may be the one that takes the longest to warm up to (disclaimer: You should still be hypothermic when it comes to Anger Management, and that show should never come to mind when I speak of "FX comedies"). The pilot, which followed Jim as he took his friend's wheelchair-bound brother Billy (DJ Qualls) to lose his virginity at a Nevada house o' whores, was more concerned about hygienically preparing the crotch of a paralyzed man for swallowing by a hooker than it was with being charming. And I don't know when I became such a prude, but jokes about ball-washing just seem too easy and obvious.
It was during my second viewing of the pilot that I started to come around, and by the end, talk of Billy's sparkling balls and his Fassbender-ish shlong seemed worth enduring in order to stick with the show a little longer. In the second episode, that clemency paid off: Next week's installment tones down the raunch, and Jim and Billy have a long heartfelt talk that humanizes both of them and transforms the series from Porky's V into something more emotional. And it doesn't need Mumford & Sons to prop it up. The moment is vital because it gives the series a better platform to build on and the viewers something meaningful to look forward to. This is a show about becoming a better person, and that isn't going to happen after 30 minutes. It's only after an hour, and then an hour and a half, that the differences start to become noticeable.
If you like the dick jokes, great, you'll love the series. But if you were put off by the pilot, I'd highly recommend watching the next two episodes of Legit before quitting it completely. It finds its stride and its heart pretty quickly as the rough edges are sanded down to the merely prickly nubs you expect from Jefferies' style of humor. Legit won't be in the same echelon as Louie, but it has a chance to be great on its own.
– It will be interesting to see how this pairs with Archer as the two are, for the most part, tonally different.
– Steve (Dan Bakkedahl) doesn't have much to do except recite variants of, "Really, Jim?" as the uptight buddy. So far, he's in need of the most work.
– Ditto for Steve's mom.
– After Billy's euphoric fade to white, I thought the pilot ended on a good note. But then there was a bumper with Jim getting pulled over while his friends were all tuckered out. I see how it's important to show Jim some extra benefits of friendship, but Billy's happy face is where I think it should have ended.
– I like this show more and more with every minute watched.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom