In the chaos of season 3’s “I think you should leave,” a cartoon character in a computer game shows you his asshole. This crudely animated drawing is not such a typical object has an anus – not to mention eyes, arms and legs – but there it was: a wavy black mark within a circle, pinched between two separate buttocks. It’s a show, actually. An unpredictable punchline in a sketch with more than a few big laughs. But the reason I mention it isn’t to spoil the joke (I’m trying not to, I swear); it’s because Tim Robinson’s Netflix series is so full of figurative assholes — paralyzing and entertaining, screaming and ranting, endearing us during their awkward escapades, yet still being assholes in the simplest sense — that it’s extremely jarring to see a literal asshole staring you straight in the face.
This is not a complaint. Quite the opposite. At just 15 minutes per vocal—each hinging on jerks or talkers—it’s amazing how quickly “I Think You Should Leave” drags you into her orbit. Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin’s sketch show features aggressive salesmen, selfish dates, and children’s show hosts who suffer mid-show meltdowns. If a friend came across one of these gasbags and described it to you, it would be time to split a sixer and complain about the state of the world. But especially when Robinson plays these men, he brings such passion and conviction and bewilderment to their bullshit that it’s impossible not to feel something more for each of them. (There’s a reason he won a Best Actor Emmys for season 2.)
Your brain may be ringing alarm bells, claiming, “I think you should leave.” But your heart says, “Stay a while. Let’s see where this is going.
And you never, ever know where it’s going. Sketches may start out in familiar territory like satirical reality shows or parodies of local TV commercials, but they always veer in wild directions and end up where they feel is best. The haphazard construction is part of its charm. The length varies, though most of the Season 3 additions are fairly limited. The humor shifts, though there are constantly great physical gags and the undercurrent of not belonging. The supporting cast of “I Think You Should Leave” is filled with a constant supply of ordinary (fuck) people, yet Robinson and Kanin pepper in wacky weirdness even more often than they bring in colorful guest stars. They also keep you on your toes. Some are perfect replacements for Robinson (like Will Forte’s screaming absurdity) while others put their own spin on the central jerks. (Welcome back, Patti Harrison.)
Sam Richardson, Robinson’s longtime best friend (see “Detroiters”!), delivers the best change of the series yet. Having risen to fame as the good guy in hits like ‘Veep’ and ‘The Afterparty’ (plus countless other scene-stealing supporting roles), seeing the affable actor go from gleeful to raging work every time, and season 3 deploys its mighty gear shifting good, but sparingly.
It also echoes the sketches of the past. Richardson’s latest appearance has him playing another host, such as ‘Baby of the Year’ and ‘Little Buff Boys’, but the root of the new scenario comes close to “Dan Vega’s Mega Money Quiz” (more commonly known as “Chunky: You know what you’re doing!”). A Connor O’Malley reunion brings back “Honk If You’re Horny,” and a doggie door ad can bring back fond memories of “Coffin Flop” (without hitting that untouchable level of comedic gold). Various group settings such as a block party or office meeting call to mind other ordinary events that become extravagant, even extraordinary. When a character goes too far, he’s sometimes met with confusion, but just as often the scene turns hot or his strange instincts reveal themselves.
The third season fits perfectly in the mold of past seasons, even if at first glance it seems that there is an extra touch of absurdity and situational humor. To say it’s not as ambitious as what came before it would be as true as instinct can be, but it would also ignore the bold imagination and earnest commitment that fuels one of TV’s most unpredictable experiences. Perhaps Robinson and Kanin are composing the sketch models they prefer to build from, or perhaps these were simply the best options from this creative session. It does not matter. Some sketches are destined for the Top 10, and while “I Think You Should Leave” will always be a bit hit and miss when it arrives, there’s still nothing else like it.
Good luck with the leak of images and references to the first sketch of the season. Try not to scare your coworkers into laughing at the thought of Robinson’s latest dot-com idea. And if you can shake the memory of that animated asshole, don’t tell me how. All these assholes are worth remembering, even those who are not as beautiful as the rest. The tone they instill, so quickly and so consistently throughout the six-episode season, keeps you hooked as much as waiting for your next favorite line.
And the lines are there. If the historical precedent holds, viewers will cite Season 3 for months to come, if not more, and rightly so. “I think you should leave” offers to tongue all his own, and if you speak Tim Robinson, you might as well sing it. Enjoy the summer song, everyone. These assholes aren’t here to crash the party. I’m here to continue.
“I Think You Should Leave” Season 3 premieres Tuesday, May 30 on Netflix.