Jody Hill, David Gordon Green
As played by McBride and conceived by co-creator/director Jody Hill, Kenny Powers is a force of nature—an oblivious jackass that's perhaps the most arrogant, repulsive character in recent memory. His arrogance mixed with his fish-out-of-water situation in Mexico, makes for a lethal combination of character and humor and McBride milks it for all its worth, all season long. His constant speeches, showboating and general disregard for common sense and overall humanity make for exceedingly compelling comedy and the rest of the cast rises to the occasion as well. Still, if you don’t like McBride or his sense of humor then this might not be the show for you.
Even if you did love the first season of EASTBOUND AND DOWN, be prepared for some drastic changes. You won’t see most of the same characters from Season One (save, thankfully, for Stevie Janowski), but the show still maintains the same vibe and energy with its new cast. The biggest difference, perhaps, is Hill and McBride's willingness to take the character and the story in to even darker territory. There's still the familiar off-putting elements (racism, rape jokes, etc.), but this season sees Kenny Powers at his lowest point and the results are not pretty. As Kenny hits rock bottom and attempts to come to terms with his past and start anew, his character's inherent sadness and pathetic nature come to light, as does his more dangerous tendencies only glimpsed at in the past. The result reminds me a lot of Hill's last cinematic effort, the underrated OBSERVE AND REPORT, which mixed sinister undertones and comedy extremely well. Due to the darkness, some might say Two is not as funny as Season One, but its all in service of the character and his journey, which makes for a better show overall.
That's not to say in any way that the show is not funny; it's still a riot and represents McBride at his most successful. EASTBOUND AND DOWN also continues to be a non-stop barrage of memorable lines and quotable sayings to live your life by. (Every time I watch an episode I try to mentally bookmark Kenny Powers quotes for later real-life use, but there's just too many.) From talk of the "villagers" to the La Flama Blanca fiasco, there's way too much stuff to mention. (I also love all the obscure movie references thrown in, from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT's Eduardo Sanchez to Eric Roberts in STAR 80.) The supporting cast also comes to play with impressive results. Don Johnson is pitch perfect as Kenny's long lost father and even better than what you picture Kenny Powers’ dad to be. Michael Pena continues to be an underrated comedic star, creating another insane and insanely memorable character like he did in OBSERVE AND REPORT or 30 MINUTES OR LESS. And even the great Adam Scott returns with a special guest to elevate the season just a tad. However, it's Steve Little's Stevie Janowski who might be the real all-star of the show this time around. Stevie takes on a life of his own from Season One and Little's fearless performance (and willingness to bare himself in scary ways) makes the character almost as funny and watchable as Kenny Powers himself. He also might be responsible for my biggest laugh of the season. (“Stop looking at me shit!”)
While Season Two is divided into seven distinct episodes, the story really does feel like a single movie. Kenny shows real growth this season, which McBride plays as subtle as he can, hidden under all the insults and racial epithets. From being the worst father figure n the world to his girlfriend's son to confronting his own dad's shortcomings, there's a lot of heavy stuff happening here, but it never loses out to the laughs. You might even be surprised where the show takes Kenny and the audience by the end of the final episode. Where it leaves the door open for next season is incredibly fascinating and promises a truly special conclusion to a one of a kind character and comedy study.
Invitation to the Set (8:29): A light yet generic behind the scenes spotlight with plot summary and interviews with all the actors, writers and directors. It shoots straight with analysis of the story and character arcs, but also has some laughs, like discussing Kenny's “moral crossroads” about whether he’s really an ass man or a tit man.
Big Red Cockfighting (4:15): This look at the cast and crew working with live chickens is definitely interesting, with discussions about “poultry thunderdomes” and “cock whisperers,” Interviews with the cock wrangler and his process to faking the cockfights and Danny McBride's take on working with the animals.
Shit We Had to Cut Out (15:56): A fair number of deleted scenes, including more Stevie, Sebastian being rich and eccentric (i.e. chasing a hooker with a sword), Kenny being racist, a briefly topless Ana de la Reguera, and the return of the Panty Dropper! There's some funny stuff, but its easy to see why it was cut.
Every Time Someone Fucked Up Our Show (11:38): An extended gag reel with little Deep Roy making everyone laugh to Michael Pena making fart noises.
Extra Tidbit: Marilyn Manson is apparently the world’s biggest Kenny Powers fan.