On 10 Years of ‘Eastbound & Down’ In My Life

Art by Travis Wilker

I don’t know where to begin to summarize what my favorite show of all-time, Eastbound & Down, means to me and my whole life. So I’m just going to make a list of running thoughts about the series, interspersed with some of my favorite clips. Hopefully it makes sense and does Kenny Fuckin Powers justice.

  • I remember the first time I watched this show. I was over at my buddy Huston’s house and we were flipping through channels we switched over to HBO and an episode of Eastbound & Down was on. Huston settled on it and proclaimed “This is Eastbound & Down. It’s funny, you’ll like it.” I fucking did. It was season 2 episode “Chapter 9”. There were two specific quotes that did me in. When Kenny finds out that Maria has a son, Tony, he tells him “Her son? You came out of her vagina? I was all up in that shit last night!” Then later on, Kenny Powers threatens Aaron (incredibly played by Deep Roy) that he’ll rip off his fake mustache. Aaron just laughs maniacally and replies, “I always carry two. ALWAYS.” I didn’t see another episode of Eastbound & Down for months, but me and Huston quoted “I always carry two. ALWAYS.” and “You came out of her vagina? I was all up in that shit last night!” a good six times a week.
  • It’s kind of amazing that Jody Hill and Danny McBride created a character that is sexist, homophobic and xenophobic in every possible way, self-centered and constantly taking people for granted, and yet somehow we immediately relate to him and root for him. That’s really remarkable that they pulled that off. That’s some W.C. Fields shit right there. 
  • The below clip is one of the hardest moments I’ve ever laughed in my whole life, every time I watch it.
  • Danny McBride once described Steve Little as “He’s like a fucked-up Don Knotts. Everything he does is hilarious.” which is a perfect description of Steve Little. Everything Little does is hilarious and makes Stevie Janowski one of the great supporting characters in the annals of television.
  • The notion of the “TV auteur” didn’t really become a well known and accepted thing until Cary Fukunaga directed the fuck out of the first season of True Detective, but it all started with Jody Hill and David Gordon Green on Eastbound & Down. Aside from the pilot episode, directed by Adam McKay, every episode is alternated between the two independent comedic directors. It was the first show I can remember that had a distinct auteur feel to it, and it will never get the credit for pioneering the ability for directors to steer whole seasons of television.
  • When Kenny Powers said “Mine is the tale of a Christ figure that tore himself off the cross, looked at the romans with blood in his eyes and said “My turn now, cocksuckers.” I knew right then how I wanted to live my life.
  • Ashley Schaeffer is secretly the greatest comedic performance by Will Ferrell. He’s got a ridiculous blonde wig, doing a southern accent like he’s in the worst production of a Tennessee Williams play, rolling off monologues about lewd sexual acts, and he just totally magnetizes the scene he’s in without overpowering everybody else with his sheer presence. I quote “I can feel it all the way down in my plums.” every fucking chance I get. When I was in group therapy sometimes they would ask how we were feeling and where in our body we were feeling it, and it took everything I had in me to not reply with “I can feel it all the way down in my plums.”
  • When Maria’s son Tony asks Kenny if he’s a gunslinger and he replies “Short answer….yes.” I felt that.
  • At my old job, there was a guy named Kenny and there was this girl who sounded exactly like April does, and so whenever she would say his name I would bust up but couldn’t explain to them why.
  • The older I get, the more I relate to the Kenny Powers quote “The shit ya’ll are doing, the fuckin Facebook shit, the internets, the fucking dvds – it’s all bullshit. Your shit isn’t real.” Man, I don’t get these kids these days, obsessed with social media stars and going viral, which says more about me then about them, but I’m thankful that Kenny Powers verbalized the feeling. Your shit isn’t real, you damn kids.
  • The season 3 episode “Chapter 15” is one of the strangest, most bonkers episodes of television ever made. I can’t prepare you for it, but it involves the return of Ashley Schaeffer, Stevie being forced to be a sex slave of his, a tale of shitting in the swamp, the revelation that Schaeffer owns and lives on a plantation, attempted murder via cannons, and that’s keeping it light. As soon as the episode finished, I hopped online and screamed into the void asking if anybody had watched it, because it was the strangest episode of television I’ve ever seen, and it still is to this day.
  • No other show would have the idea to work in a reference to Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd into its series finale.
  • The thing I keep coming back to with this show and the multiple times I’ve rewatched it, is that besides the fact that it is still fucking hilarious, the empathy and emotional beats hit harder and harder. I think there’s a little bit of Kenny Powers in all of us, as we all strive to improve our lives against the odds. We all have to start over and learn to grow. In tough times, I remind myself that if Kenny Powers could get through it all, then so can I. Thank you, Kenny Powers.

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