Ryan O’Hanlon and Kevin Lincoln went to TNT looking for a playoff basketball game. This is what they found.
Ryan O’Hanlon: Wait, where the hell is Charles? Kenny? I don’t see Ernie, either? Where am I?!?!?!?!?
Kevin Lincoln: Baseball? What is this sport? And what’s happened to the weeknight TNT that I’ve been used to for the last what feels like six months?
Ryan: Um, I just realized that the NBA Finals are over. I convinced myself that tonight was the NBA Finals Finals, but that’s just silly!
Kevin: That is silly. Shame on you. Instead we’re going to watch Franklin & Bash, the show that was rammed down our throats between shots of Joakim Noah pouting. Ryan, you have some experience with this show, am I right?
Ryan: Yeah, I watched the premiere. Two renegade lawyers. Talking shit. Taking names. Basically living the life of the lawyer that none of us ever grew up wanting to become.
Kevin: I can see that, only two minutes in. That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen a show work in a masturbation joke. All right, I’m a Franklin & Bash virgin, and this feels like the same mix of fascination and horror I felt the first time I ever spoke with a girl. So, F&B: you’re my new girlfriend.
Ryan: Congrats! I’m happy for you guys. Well, the first episode centered around a pilot who crashes a plane, supposedly, because he was joining the Mile High Club on the job. Episode two was about a woman who killed her husband because she sexed him too hard. And this episode looks like it’s about a woman who was fired because she was “too attractive.” So, yeah, that’s what we’re dealing with.
Kevin: And … the show just immediately made it clear that … it thinks she isn’t too pretty. I can see where the priorities are here.
Ryan: Maybe this is some kind of larger commentary of the shallow nature of Los Angeles, Hollywood, and the Entertainment Industry in general? Are they making fun of themselves, in a way? Am I witnessing TV history?
Kevin: I’m not sure. Because so far, it just seems like this show’s mocking delusional girls who think they attract men. How obnoxious of them.
Ryan: Well, we’re only eight minutes in, so let’s give it some time. Do you think Franklin read those children’s books about the turtle with the same name? That must’ve been traumatic.
Kevin: Probably. I grew up with everyone always mentioning a bearded president, so I can relate. Here’s a question: TNT clearly advertised this show directly to basketball fans. How much do you think the ads that fill sports broadcasting—when fans watch the same networks day after day—become a part of the experience?
Ryan: Like it or not, they’ve become a part of it. You follow the game on Twitter and anything that pops on the screen is fair game for criticism and commentary. It’s sort of genius by TNT. I sure as hell wouldn’t be watching, otherwise. I felt like Franklin and Bash were my cousins before I’d even seen an episode.
Kevin: It’s true; almost like they watched the games with us.
Ryan: They didn’t?
Kevin: Exactly. So, it looks like F&B‘s misogyny is now being juxtaposed with the show itself recognizing the indecency of the Playboy-esque magazine and reflecting this in its other characters.
Ryan: So, the woman who thought she was fired because she was pretty was actually fired because she isn’t. Yet, Franklin and Bash, two Don Juans by all indications and two high-level lawyers, couldn’t realize that? They needed a woman to tip them off on it.
Kevin: It looks like Franklin & Bash, the show, is using Franklin and Bash, the characters, to comment on issues of sexism and, now, racism, as they muck things up in Chinatown. Does this kind of strategy work? It seems sort of like having your asshole macho men and being feminist, too.
Ryan: Did we underestimate this show? Maybe we’re totally overestimating it. Either way we’re not even-estimating it. They’re throwing a lot at me right now. I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed … kind of like Franklin and Bash must be!
Kevin: Yeah, it’s actually moving really fast. And, uh, the zaniness quotient: surprisingly low! I’ve seen multiple instances of characters doing paperwork.
Ryan: The craziest moment was speculation about a guy who may or may not have stuck a frozen rabbit down his trousers. I thought this was Frat House Law! Where are all the Twisted Teas, the cornhole boards, and the sleeveless shirts?
Kevin: Outside the courthouse, where they belong (i.e., law school)! But we just got our first instance of courthouse action, which also involved some action from Franklin (Bash?) as he spat some game at a female juror. And the mysterious old gadabout is hard at work in Chinatown. No good show is complete without a mysterious old gadabout.
Kevin: Oh! Avatar sex joke! But yeah, go on.
Ryan: All right, things are starting to get a little hot in here. And it’s not just me. One of the female lawyers came over to the Franklin & Bash–elor pad to give Bash (the little guy) a lesson in seduction, letting your hair down, and drinking a beer. Oh, and after seeing this, another character stopped in his tracks and said “I’m gonna go masturbate.” That’s more like it, fellas!
Kevin: So, we have a sincere consideration of beauty going on here. You buying it?
Ryan: I think they just lost me. Bash (the tall one, actually) just made out with his client (the discriminated-against woman) while she was on the stand. His defense: I was overcome by her beauty. This is a real show.
Kevin: Yep. I’m pretty much with you here. Remember, girls: You’re not beautiful unless somebody kisses you.
Ryan: And, apparently, you’re not pretty enough to get fired unless men suddenly start playing tonsil hockey with you in public. Dudes shouldn’t be able to control their urges around you. Or something like that.
Kevin: Real life. All right, Bash won’t settle, and we’re off to the races. It looks like we’ve got a back-and-forth structure here: courtroom to the Bashelor pad to the law offices to the courtroom, and so on.
Ryan: Yep, things have settled in pretty comfortably since that initial wave of racism, sexism, and more sexism. Oh wait, now they’re at a rooftop pool party with girls in bikinis. They made it 40 minutes before showing some cleavage. Good for them.
Kevin: Big Mac has entered the building, and we’ve got a Hugh Hefner doppelgänger. Speaking of which, poor Hef! It’s amazing how the sympathies of Twitter will swing.
Kevin: Ahh. Franklin just said, “I don’t know anything about women.” That is telling.
Ryan: Important note: At the end of episode one, Bash was told by the love of his life, a fellow lawyer, that she was marrying someone else. His heart is still raw. He knows what unrequited love is, OK? Franklin, on the other hand, is exactly what you’d expect. The little guy getting seduced by the intimidating female lawyer co-worker. He doesn’t seem to care about anything, either.
Kevin: That is illuminating. Nice to see they’re creating some depth.
Kevin: And we’re back to the old gadabout and the Chinese subplot! I’m getting kind of a Ted Danson–meets–Henry Winkler vibe here, though this show doesn’t have the absurdism of either Bored to Death or Arrested Development. In fact, F&B is playing it pretty straight so far.
Ryan: Nope, this show is ridiculous and they want us to know that they don’t realize it. Or maybe they actually don’t. That’s a scary thought.
Kevin: It is. I’m totally lost, so let’s talk about something else. What do we have to look forward to in the sports world now that Dirk the wandering samurai has finally vanquished LeBron?
Kevin: Oh, actually, before we stray too far: the problem is feminine jealously. Of course it is!
Ryan: Duh. If there are women, there’s jealousy. That’s late-night, off-cable Screenwriting 101. Get with it, Lincoln!
Kevin: /feels shame
Ryan: Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s a common mistake. I just expected more from you. Are you sure you wanna talk sports? We’ve got the NBA lockout, the NFL lockout, the USMNT losing in the Gold Cup, and an endless summer of low-scoring baseball games to look forward to. Feel the excitement?
Kevin: I’d rather that than this seventh love story that just sprouted in F&B, though I can feel my pulse rate bottoming out as I think about baseball. Diagnose the American soccerdoods in one sentence.
Ryan: You can’t walk the dog without learning how to sleep, first.
Kevin: I like it. Anyway, back to Franklin & Bash, as we rumble into the station. The plastic surgery money goes to charity; all is right in Chinatown; and the Internet is back up at home. Binaries have been preserved. How are you feeling as Franklin and Bash bask in their triumph?
Ryan: I’m centered, that’s for sure. The show begins in a lonely apartment with the boys playing video games with some sketchy bros who bail on them without notice. And it ends with the Bash and his Brother playing video games in the midst a rollicking party with glasses of margarita mix in hand. This is real life.
Kevin: Agreed. Why does Bash get such a cool name when Franklin’s named after a turtle? For a later episode, I’m sure. Anyway, Men of a Certain Age is back on, because apparently TNT only has two shows! It’s been a pleasure. Though I think I liked the commercials better. What happened to him shotgunning beers in the courtroom?
Ryan: The commercials were great, but still didn’t come close to those Frank-and-Bs commercials from a few weeks ago. I will leave you with this advice, which I’m sure Bash has imparted to Franklin once or twice: You don’t shotgun beer, you shotgun life.
Kevin: Shotgun life, kids.
Ryan O’Hanlon is the sports editor for the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He’s still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.
—Photo TNT/Annette Brown