During one sketch within I Think You Should Leave season 2, Tim Robinson’s frazzled character goes on a lengthy tangent to Mike O’Brien’s straightman about how “Rick” can get a wrestler to make a video with him for free because they’re childhood friends that lost their virginities together. O’Brien’s character responds with, “What the fuck are you talking about?” This is a sketch about pants and a crowd-funded website. This is the manic energy that’s present for every moment of I Think You Should Leave and it’s goddamn glorious.
Sketch comedy has gone through endless permutations that have ultimately turned the medium into one of our most subversive and digestible forms of humor. Sketch comedy can placate the mainstream or go so far in the opposite direction it makes anti-comedy blush. Sketch comedy can embrace its inherent lack of a larger narrative or push the form to break boundaries with other sketch series that thrive on structure and connective tissue. As a result, sketch comedy has never felt more lawless. There’s constant innovation that fuels the subject matter, yet there’s still nothing that feels quite like Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave, an absurdist sketch series of the highest caliber that continues to confound and entertain in its nearly flawless second season.
It’s difficult to designate a distinct style to I Think You Should Leave and its interests cover a wide spectrum of topics. There are sketches that break down familiar areas of banality like cable package minutiae, overproduced prank shows, the artificial nature of talk show publicity blitzes, or ghost tours. However, there are just as many sketches that begin with ideas that seem endlessly removed from reality and impossible to land upon, like existential musings that grow out of ear piercing videos or dolls that are manufactured in a way where they’re literally hazardous to children of a certain weight. I Think You Should Leave effectively fluctuates between these two extreme styles where it’s impossible to predict what’s next or where sketches are headed, even the ones that come across as the most telegraphed.
This season of I Think You Should Leave demonstrates a certain fascination around the larger idea of context and semantics, which are integral to so many of this season’s sketches. Some characters function as gleeful Amelia Bedelia-esque caricatures that are competent in every facet of life except for one obscure blindspot, which endlessly gets doubled down on in any of these scenarios. Simple misunderstandings fester into crippling emotional breakdowns once these basic logline premises ricochet against each other enough times that all that’s left is a tenuous hold on reality.
These sketches often take such fantastical deviations that it’s difficult to even establish a baseline of normalcy for some of them. This isn’t a deterrent, but more a testament to the weird bizarro world that I Think You Should Leave exists in where hotdogs are standard sustenance and complex shirt patterns necessitate jacked up prices.
Another highlight from this season involves the weird way in which so many sketches tell stories through hindsight or layer multiple narratives on top of each other. A sketch will spend the majority of its length on the rivalry between bit players in a piece of theater, but it’s actually a commentary on bawdy jokes and “locker room talk.” Other scenes are framed through instant message conversations, court depositions, or themed restaurants, only to effectively turn into depressing recaps of neglected losers. Sometimes these gags fly by, but at other opportunities they’re allowed to expand their scope in such exaggerated ways that a toilet humor one-liner evolves into a The Game-esque conspiracy.
I Think You Should Leave’s second season also features more callbacks and foreshadowing than its debut year, which leads to a more sophisticated level of comedy. There are many occasions where something will get an offhand mention, only for it to return later with a greater and more ridiculous significance. This makes I Think You Should Leave only play better on rewatches and every sketch conjures an euphoric feeling of, “Oh, this is a good one….”
There’s also a more fluid nature to this season’s sketches where often one idea will flow right into the next, not necessarily in a structured fashion like Mr. Show, but with more of a stream of consciousness mentality. Multiple topics are tackled in a single sketch, which often snowballs in a weird direction, none of which ultimately matters. Sometimes it feels like a whole separate sketch is playing out parallel to the main one, yet the camera only catches pieces of it before it decides to just abandon ship and progress to an entirely new idea. Sketches are just allowed to run long, do their thing, and see where they go. Some episodes only have three or four actual sketches, but they never feel like they’re lacking in content because they’re so densely layered.
I Think You Should Leave is clearly designed to be a playground that caters to Tim Robinson’s weirder eccentricities, but the show’s second season exhibits more confidence to break away from its star. There’s even a large number of sketches that are entirely void of Robinson. Robinson is still the lead of I Think You Should Leave, but there’s more of an ensemble feeling in season two as personalities like Patti Harrison, Connor O’Malley, and John Early get well-deserved opportunities to steer the chaos. There is also an abundance of familiar faces from Saturday Night Live alongside incredible performers, like Tim Heidecker, Bob Odenkirk, Sam Richardson, and even Paul Walter Hauser, who all help elevate the series’ comedy.
Season two of I Think You Should Leave may be slightly inferior to season one, but in extremely punitive ways that ultimately will come down to personal preference. There may be a little less classics that come out of the season, but there’s no shortage of quality absurdity in these six densely-packed new episodes. I Think You Should Leave definitely deserves to stay. There will soon be hordes of people that shout about Sloppy Steaks, Dan Flashes, and Calico Cut Pants Dot Com. Just don’t go to Blue Dolphin. That place burned down and Rob Rovani’s out on his ass now.
This review is based off of all six episodes of I Think You Should Leave’s second season. All episodes are available to stream on Netflix now.