Published May 07, 2019In a cultural landscape where the relevance of sketch TV ebbs and flows, seemingly and perpetually existing in the shadow of the Saturday Night Live Death Star, Tim Robinson's I Think You Should Leave is a comedy beacon, signalling a rare type of risk-taking in a relatively conventional form.
Since Chappelle's Show, North American audiences have embraced a number of other current and short-lived sketch shows beyond SNL, most of which rely more on controlled, remotely filmed segments, as opposed to the limits of traditional, live-before-audience work, which is the albatross SNL struggles with.
But despite the increased criticism of that show in recent years, viewers keep tabs on it for its past, potential and access to mainstream performers who risk something just by appearing on the show and working with its writers to come up with, well, at least something resembling comedy.
SNL leaves its mark on I Think You Should Leave as well: Robinson was briefly a featured player on that show, who wound up behind the scenes, as a writer, and his new venture is produced by the Lonely Island crew, who arguably salvaged and modernized NBC's longest-running show with their viral "Digital Shorts" series. Their brashness and brevity informs Robinson's show too; each of these six episodes for Netflix barely hit the 20-minute mark.
But good lord, what a fully loaded viewing experience I Think You Should Leave is. More in the vein of a less caustic Mr. Show with Bob & David or Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Tim Heidecker is a guest star here, along with Will Forte, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer and Sam Richardson, among others), Robinson is on an surreal, awkward tip here, delving deep into satirizing weirdly accepted cultural production and pushing social interaction meditations into some bizarre stratosphere.
There are times where this rather mature fare is simply and conceptually an exercise in, "How would an inexperienced, innocent kid deal with all of our adult bullshit?" If these references to "mudpies" or cartoonish violence, snobbery and cynicism feel like they may be juvenile in their nuance, it's worth noting that the show revels in the childlike wonder and bluntness that undercuts all of our grown-up pretence to get to something real.
I Think You Should Leave is a stellar series whose true significance may take years to properly recognize but, for now, it's simply impactful comedy that rewards repeat viewing.