Kenny Powers: The Second Coming

“I’m a bulletproof tiger man!”

East Bound & Down is a bad television show in every possible way. The writing is baggy. The acting shotty. The story lines cliched. The characters lack motivation and, sometimes, believability. So much is wrong with this HBO original series and yet I think it’s some of the best television I’ve seen in years.

Kenny Powers is a washed-up has been of a pro-baseball pitcher. His catch phrase?

“You’re fucking out.”

His pitching mantra?

“Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless”

Kenny Powers is a racist, sexist, ageist, drug addict, drunk, juiced-up, fucked-up, over-weight, megalomaniacal, sex-addicted, douchebag grade school gym teacher. He lives with his brother and sister-in-law. And the only property still in his name are his pick-up truck and jet ski. He sports the greased out 80’s mullet and speaks with the swagger of someone who believes that every syllable from his lips add up to religious words of wisdom. He has an anger management problem and until the end of the last episode of season one, has lost his fastball.

So how on earth is this show going to save all of television?

Well, it’s simple really-being as crass and lowbrow as possible. This show is so incredibly low brow that it actually comes full circle and somehow after quoting the best lines and a few nights sleep, the series comes into focus as a brilliant satirical examination of all things American: the state of baseball, politics, our education system, love, gender warfare, drugs, performance enhancers (both physically and sexually), and, well, family.

Watching Danny McBride, who plays Kenny Powers like DeNiro played Travis Bickle, dance at the grade school mixer to benefit a child dying from a rare form of cancer is hilarious. Oh, and did I mention he is also tripping on Ecstasy.

About J. R. Angelella

J. R. Angelella is the author of the popular debut novel ZOMBIE: A NOVEL (Soho Press) and a contributing author to the murder-mystery anthology WHO DONE IT? (Soho Teen), benefiting the nonprofit organization 826NYC. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Sou’wester, JMWW, The Collagist, Literary Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal and The Nervous Breakdown. His short story “Sauce” won the 2012 Short Story Contest held by The Coachella Review. He received a BA in English Literature from Ithaca College and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He taught creative writing at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City and currently teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, the writer Kate Angelella.
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2 Responses to Kenny Powers: The Second Coming

  1. tod goldberg says:

    You forgot his advice on what every pitching video needs: Animal sounds and a dude throwing balls like he’s a force to be reckoned with.

  2. Well, he IS an American icon.

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