The final season of Eastbound & Down started out much differently than its predecessors. Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) was finally settling down, becoming a family man, working a regular 9-5 renting cars. But that didn’t last long. He got the opportunity to become a star again courtesy of an old friend, and set on a journey back to the top, complete with taking out anyone who might get in the way. It all culminated in last night's series finale.
Ultimately, by the end of season four, we got to see the real Kenny Powers: a guy with a huge ego and a big heart.
Here, Complex editorial assistant Angel Diaz and deputy editor Justin Monroe discuss their feelings about the last Eastbound & Down episode ever, how the series made jokes about race without being racist, and KP’s love/hate relationship with Stevie Janowski.
Justin Monroe: What did you think of the ending? Did it successfully wrap up Kenny Powers for you?
Angel Diaz: At first I wasn't feeling it. He's been too much of an asshole for too long to keep getting all these chances. However, I like the way he ended his screenplay. That made up for it. I really enjoyed when he pulled up to the African village on a futuristic motorcycle.
Justin: [Laughs.] Fortune and fame bring out Kenny P's ridiculousness, so I never wanted to see him sink back to the depths of society: being a teacher. I loved that his screenplay was so insane, and that in his warped mind he imagines his children growing up to be Lindsey Lohan and Alexander Skarsgaard in a wig. It was Forrest Gump-like, if only Gump were full of himself. It takes a particularly confident, cocksure man to imagine himself burning on a funeral pyre while men, women, and children weep uncontrollably.
Angel: Yes, that part was awesome. I just wish the season was a few episodes longer. It felt like they rushed it a bit. I could've easily enjoyed so many more adventures between KP and Stevie. One of the highlights was Stevie being played by an actor with Down syndrome. Kenny always disrespects Stevie with no consequences, right to the very end.
Justin: The character of Stevie is such a great shot at all the star-fuckers/hangers-on of the sports world, all the sycophants slurping every single thing a celebrity says or does. He's pathetic, but you also feel for him after all the abuse he receives and even revels in, just so he can be by Kenny's side. At least he gained the respect of his family.
The end maintained some of the asshole KP we love, but also showed a tremendous amount of growth from the totally delusional, self-concerned prick we met in the beginning of the series. Kenny does recognize, in the end, that his family and friends are more important than anything else. Of course, it hasn't stopped him from mocking Stevie, or from chasing fame and fortune in movies. That was a nice touch, all these moviemakers dabbling in TV on Eastbound & Down, joking that the movie industry isn't as cutthroat as cable sports talk television.
I agree that I could watch him from now until the end of times. I hope that they bring the character back somehow, whether it's in a movie or webisodes. Anything. Movie careers prevent the creative team from doing Eastbound to the death, but this season showed that Kenny P in any situation is hilarious. It was equally effective having him join Sports Sesh as it was showing him trying to live the boring life of a family man. If they took Kenny to Afghanistan to entertain troops, I'd watch that. Kenny makes his way onto mankind's first space shuttle to populate Mars? Hell yes. There's not a scenario they could think up that wouldn't be great so long as Kenny was being Kenny in it.
Was there enough racial humor for you in the "Kenny goes to Africa" bit? The show got away with a lot of that because Kenny is Kenny.
Angel: Exactly, McBride managed to create a memorable character that doesn't define him. He has that sick sense of humor in everything he does. The racial humor in Eastbound & Down comes second to only Chappelle's Show. It's never tasteful but somehow always hilarious. They take stereotypes and make fun of them. When he pulled up talking their dialect was some of the best shit I've ever seen. They basically worshipped him when he arrived, because he's an international star. Or when he told the lawyer to shut her ass up.
He was racist when he was in Mexico, when he paid for the baseball field. He just doesn't give a fuck, and, like you said, that's what makes Kenny "Kenny." And I agree, although the season felt a bit rushed, they did try to cover all aspects, and showed Kenny flourishing in everything the world threw at him.
Justin: The racist jokes are doled out to any and everyone, and manage to make fun of Kenny and all the ignorant assholes of the world. That's part of their hilarity. His general absurdity makes racism look absurd. I'm sure the jokes upset people here and there but they were true to the character they established in the opening scenes of the series, where he looks like John Rocker while disparaging black people in Atlanta and gay people in San Francisco. In less capable hands, these jokes would have been ineffective and exploitative and we would have greeted them with stone faces, but it's clear that the Eastbound & Down crew and Danny McBride, in particular, knew what they were doing.
Angel: Definitely. It plays into the character and the jokes are funny as hell. I don't care, I enjoy a good race joke.
Justin: Seriously, if you can't laugh at racism, you give it power.
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