"Eastbound and Down" is not yet the greatest show in the world, but it’s worth checking out. It’s got a weird tone – partly wacky redneck stuff; partly absurdest stuff that you’d expect from the FunnyOrDie and "Foot Fist Way" guys; partly dark, depressing Tennessee Williams Southern-Gothic drama; and "George Washington" realism mixed in with drug humor and social satire. All packed into under 30 minutes.
It’s weird when someone like Will Ferrell shows up as a guest star on the show, because the character he plays is a totally hammy FunnyOrDie type (e.g., SNL-style Comedy Acting + Over-the-Top Vulgarity) that is at once both awesome and entirely not fitting within the context of half the other plotlines, which involve the main character having problems with drugs, alcohol, steroids, and an inability to emotionally connect to people, a flat-lined career, etc. One moment you see the lead guy getting crushed by life; and the next moment you see him doing wacky cracker shtick opposite other purposely over-the-top actor-comedians. The show bounces around like this constantly.
The one-sentence pitch: It's like “Rosanne” meets “The Glass Menagerie” meets FunnyOrDie’s “The Landlord” meets "North Dallas Forty" meets “My Name is Earl,” if “My Name is Earl” was an R-rated movie by Kevin Smith instead of a Scientology-karma network sitcom.
It makes it hard to judge whether or not the show is good or bad. After four or five episodes I’m still not even sure if I like, love, or hate it. But I’ve gotta admit: It’s different, and it sometimes zigs in a different direction when you expect it zag somewhere else; not just plot-wise, but on an emotional and thematic level. And that makes it exciting for a sitcom.
I’m curious to see whether or not the show gets better or worse. Seems like it could be improved upon (balancing the comedy/drama and reality/absurdity better, working on the pacing, expanding the cast), but the current Redneck Man-Child Learns to Become a Real Man and Regains His High School Sweetheart routines will wear thin pretty quick if the show doesn’t figure out what arc to take the characters on next.
That said, after “Lost,” “Fringe,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “30 Rock,” “Underbelly,” “Damages,” and “The Office,” I’d have to say that “Eastbound and Down" is one of the best shows currently on TV, at least until "Ashes to Ashes" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" bring forth their new seasons.