What to Watch Verdict
'I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson' is still one of the craziest, most hilarious comedy series, hitting new highs in its second season.
😂 The sketches never overstay their welcome.
😂 Some welcome guest stars opposite Robinson.
😂 Always unpredictable humor.
😂 It's a shame there's just six episodes.
😂 Some of the sketches miss a bit more than others.
😂 There may not be quite as many instantly meme-able bits this year.
This post contains mild spoilers for I Think You Should Leave.
The beautiful absurdity of Tim Robinson’s style of sketch comedy is once again on full display in the second season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, arriving on Netflix today. The show’s first season, released in 2019, somehow managed to capture a social-media zeitgeist with a handful of its most memorable sketches quickly turning into hilarious and recognizable memes. It’s hard to know for sure if any of this season’s sketches will be the next Hot Dog Man (AKA Mr. “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this”) or the old man in the focus group talking about a car with a steering wheel that doesn’t fly off while you’re driving. But I Think You Should Leave remains steadfastly, firmly, and deliciously insane.
One of the keys to the show’s success is its brevity. We can talk all we like about how some audiences are now more willing to binge a ten-hour TV series but cringe at watching three-hour movies. But there’s really no excuse for you to avoid binging I Think You Should Leave: its six episodes, including end credits, still amount to less than two full hours. Each episode is roughly 15-17 minutes long, and within each one, there’s a handful of sketches, all of which are heavy on truly demented comedy.
Robinson himself is a huge part -- but not the only leading performer -- to selling the absurdity. From one of the very first sketches, in which he plays an office worker struggling to hide a meal he’s eating in a meeting because they skipped lunch, Robinson’s ferocious ability to commit to a bit without breaking even slightly is remarkable. And this time around, it’s not just Robinson in each sketch who gets to lean hard into ridiculous premises. One of the other recognizable actors -- there’s plenty of actors here, but few with other notable credits -- is Paul Walter Hauser of Richard Jewell and I, Tonya, getting to play up emotional anguish at a guys’ poker game where everyone else is willing to playfully mock their significant others, but when he does, it all but breaks his heart.
There’s a few other familiar faces, too, including Robinson’s old comic cohort Sam Richardson; last season, fans will recall that Richardson played an emcee of a fashion show where all of the contestants were babies, including that bad boy Bart Harley Jarvis. This time around, Richardson has a similar role in a sketch, as an emcee for the Little Buff Boys Corporate Competition, where he drags the unsuspecting CEO on stage to choose the beefiest little-boy model, to the CEO’s extreme discomfort. And other alternative comedians, like Tim Heidecker and John Early, anchor specific sketches (neither one featuring Robinson) that blend the lunacy of the best sketch comedy with intensely cringeworthy awkwardness. The sketch featuring Heidecker begins with him on a date at a sci-fi-themed bar, spiraling into a joint shame session against the dweeby kid portraying an alien who roasts the crowd. That balance of comedy and discomfort is the show at its strongest point, and a point that’s hit often throughout the six episodes.
With hindsight, of course, it’s worth wondering if anything in this season of I Think You Should Leave is going to have the same lasting impression on audiences as was the case with its surprising first season. Perhaps the strongest contender comes midway through the run of six episodes, as we watch a fake trailer for an intense thriller with a bearded cop out for revenge, only to learn that the actor playing the bearded cop...is Santa Claus. (There’s a follow-up sketch in the same episode riffing on how some actors at press junkets for movies get particularly angry when certain topics are broached by unwise journalists.)
Robinson and his writing staff haven’t broken tradition too strongly here -- there are a few connecting sketches from episode to episode, but just a few, and you don’t have to watch them all in order to find each bit funny on its own. If anything feels a bit different -- and thankfully in a good way -- it’s that Robinson’s aggressiveness has been amplified. The most deceptive thing about how Tim Robinson presents himself is that he starts out seeming like a perfectly milquetoast Midwesterner, before he turns a hard corner into gleeful insanity, refusing to back down from any perceived challenge. Another sketch, in which he shows off strangely designed menswear to his fellow office workers, shifts into an ad for the same menswear, leaping from comic idea to comic idea freely and wildly.
This is the core strength of I Think You Should Leave: its only truly formulaic element is that it will be unpredictable. The simplest setup hides a demented twist, with each of those twists being impossible to suss out at the start outside of being safe in assuming that it will be adult. (One bit, in which Robinson attends a nighttime haunted-house tour, leans hard into profanity and awkwardness.) The darkness in some of the sketches, too, is unexpected for swerving into brief bouts of profundity: one sketch features Robinson as a prank-show host who’s about to cause some wackiness at a local mall while in a terribly crafted disguise, only to turn inward and depressive, the entire vibe scaling back from humor into pathos.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson is a strange, singular gift bestowed upon us by a distinctively fertile comic mind. It’s easy to wish that there were more than six new episodes to enjoy, but Robinson and his co-creator Zach Kanin fully grasp that one of the great strengths of memorable comedy is that it knows when to end. I Think You Should Leave, just as funny on the whole in this new season as in its first season, knows the value of a strong finish, a bonus that so few other comedies are able to grasp. It’s as loopy and weird as ever, thank God.
Josh Spiegel is a freelance cultural critic who has been published in Slashfilm, SyFy, ScreenCrush, The A.V. Club, The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post and others. His favorite films include Singin’ in the Rain, The Rocketeer, Pinocchio and A Matter of Life and Death. His favorite TV shows include Ted Lasso, Only Murders in the Building, Deadwood and Lost. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, two sons and too many cats.
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