"I'm the man who has the ball; I'm the man who can throw it faster than Eastbound and Down
fuck. So that is why I am better than everyone in the world. Kiss my ass and suck. My. Dick. Everyone."
— Kenny Powers
tells the story of washout major league baseball pitcher Kenny Powers. After years of jerkassery
towards the media and professional sports, Kenny finds himself back home in North Carolina, living with his brother's family with a sad look on his face and an even sadder pitch. He gets a job at his alma mater, Jefferson Davis Middle School, as a substitute gym teacher, working with spastic principal Terrence Cutler, obsessive music teacher Stevie Janowski, and art teacher (plus teenage-flame) April Buchanon. Kenny is willing to do whatever it takes to get back on top; whether it be the Majors or April. He aspires for both.
The second season of the show sees Kenny making a trip to Mexico to try to play baseball there, while the third season features Kenny's return to America on a minor-league team in Myrtle Beach. Despite the apparent conclusion of the story arc at the end of season 3, HBO ordered a fourth season
, which ran in 2013. The series ended after four seasons and 29 episodes. Has nothing to do with the Jerry Reed song or Smokey and the Bandit
Tropes in this series include:
- Acting for Two: Jason Sudekis plays twin brothers in Season 3.
- Actor Allusion: Likely unintentional, but Kenny tells Aaron to go back to his "Ewok village" in season 2. Deep Roy played one of the Ewoks at the beginning of his career.
- Analogy Backfire: "Whenever I look at a Mexican, I will think of you. Whenever you look at that jackass, you think of me."
- As You Know: When Kenny meets his old teammate Guy Young in the fourth-season premiere ("Chapter 22"), Guy helpfully greets Kenny with "My old teammate!".
- Attending Your Own Funeral: The fourth season opens with a montage that includes Kenny doing this. He reveals himself at the funeral, and his brother punches him in the face.
- Auto Erotica: Stevie has sex with a girl at a funeral in "Chapter 17" and seems to feel bad about it afterwards.
- Batman Gambit: Kenny's plot to defeat Guy Young ("Chapter 27") requires Guy not only to fire Kenny, but to do it in a way that will offend the Sports Sesh audience.
- Beastly Bloodsports: Kenny Powers moves to Mexico and is in the cockfighting business until his cock "Big Red" dies.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Stevie loves Maria and wants to be with her forever. He eventually brings her back to America with him. Once they actually get there Maria brings a ton of relatives in and Stevie gets the feeling he made a big mistake.
- Happens to Stevie again in Season 3 where, thanks to the spark having gone out of his marriage with Maria, he desperately wants to have an affair. Then he cheats on Maria and immediately feels incredibly guilty.
- Black and Gray Morality: Ashley Schaeffer is pretty much the only way you're going to feel sorry for Kenny Powers.
- Black Comedy
- Bloody Hilarious: Stevie shoots his fake chin off in "Chapter 28". It is bloody, and it is hilarious.
- Brand X: Major League Baseball did not license their trademarks, so Kenny plays for "Texas" against "Cleveland" in the season 3 finale. Likewise, the season 2 finale features Kenny signing a contract for "Texas Baseball". Averted with the minor league teams, which have original names.
- The Bus Came Back: Almost all the supporting players from Season 1 (except for Stevie, who remains a regular the whole time). Ashley Schaeffer, Reg Mackworthy, and Kenny's dad all make return appearances as well.
- Buxom Is Better:
- Kenny stares at April's rack when he sees her again, and in the second season he compares Vida (less bosomy, but a great butt) to April and decides that he's a tit man.
- In Season 4 Kenny has an idea for a theme restaurant, "Taters 'N Tits", so names "because all the waitresses at TNT have huge tits."
- The Cameo:
- Marilyn Manson, of all people, briefly pops up in "Chapter 27", without makeup, as a waiter who serves Kenny and April.
- In series finale "Chapter 29", Lindsay Lohan and Alexander Skaarsgard appear as Kenny's grown-up children in Kenny's elaborate Imagine Spot.
- Catch Phrase: "You're fucking out!"
- Christmas Episode: "Chapter 28". This being the show that it is, this episode involves a pile of cocaine cut in the shape of a Christmas tree and a Santa suit spattered with blood.
- Cluster F-Bomb: It's on HBO.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: While the act doesn't happen in reality, Ashley Shaeffer describes a dream in which his son walks in on him and his wife having sex and Ashley insists on continuing.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Dead Sidekick: Shane in Season 3 after he ODs on cocaine while he and Kenny are partying.
- Deadly Distant Finale
- Disappeared Dad: Kenny's father, gone for decades before he reappeared in Season 2.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Reg Mackworthy is bit of an ass to Kenny since they were supposed rivals, so Kenny pitches a ball so fast, it knocks Mackworthy's eye out.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Kenny and his buddy Shane mimic intercourse with the classic finger-and-circle gesture, and then Shane announces, "Because our fingers are dicks! And these look like pussies!".
- Downer Ending / Cliff Hanger: The Season One finale.
- Drugs Are Bad: Played surpisingly straight in "Chapter 16", when Shane has a heart attack and dies while he and Kenny are snorting coke together.
- Drunk Driver: Forms the relationship between Kenny and Stevie.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Every Car Is a Pinto: "Chapter 21"
- Fan Disservice: For every shot of April's cleavage and Vida's posterior, there's bound to be an equal and opposite reaction, usually in the form of Kenny or (shudder) Stevie or Stevie and Maria.
- Kenny's skanky topless jetskiing girlfriend from Season 1, who announces "My pussy itches!" at a bar and then scratches it with a fork.
- See Male Frontal Nudity below.
- Maria's grotesque fake breasts (presumably a prosthetic) in Season 4.
- Friends with Benefits: Kenny and Tracy are fuck buddies.
- Genius Ditz: Kenny isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he's an amazing baseball pitcher (at least when he's not in a slump).
- Groin Attack: Kenny's dad returns and embraces Kenny's mom in "Chapter 19", 27 years after he left to get cigarettes. She responds with a knee to his groin.
- Hope Spot: For the unnamed Jerkass Woobie ball player at the beginning of "Chapter 21". He begins to apologize to a girl and says how bad he feels for acting like a jerk... and then he gets hit by a truck.
- Idiot Ball: "Chapter 21". Kenny meant well, but...
April: Why couldn't you have just stayed in the majors, and Toby and I could have come with you?
- Important Haircut: Kenny's corn-rows.
- Stevie cuts off all his hair in "Chapter 18" after breaking up with Maria.
- Inherently Funny Words: Swear words, "Clegg", and "Dustin".
- Informed Ability: McBride initially did a very poor job of imitating a baseball pitcher's motion. Later seasons had him work with an actual pitching coach as Kenny was shown pitching more often.
- It Runs in the Family: Kenny's Dad is a manipulative Jerk Ass, while his Mom abuses drugs and has a bad temper. Kenny inherits his parents nasty traits without getting his father's cleverness or his mother's common sense. Dustin seems to be the Black Sheep, but comments from Kenny indicate that he was a hellraiser like Kenny before he met his wife.
- It's All About Me: Kenny is the king of this trope.
- Jar Potty: "Chapter 29" reveals that Guy Young has not reacted well to losing his job on Sports Sesh.
- Jerk Ass: Eddie (Kenny's Dad).
- Jerk Ass Woobie: Kenny is a total asshole, but he's in such a wretched state that you also feel bad for him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kenny is a complete bastard most of the time but has moments that show he's not all bad and genuinely tries to help people (Albeit in his own messed up way).
- Jizzed in My Pants: Well, it IS Katy Mixon.
- Kavorka Man: Kenny's half-brother Casper says that all of the Powers men have a special touch with the ladies. This would actually make sense, since Dustin is the only Powers man shown to not be a total sleaze while both Kenny and Eddie being able to schmooze up old flames who have no reason to ever want to speak to them again.
- Kick the Dog: Kenny casually exploits and abuses Stevie and Stevie duly takes it all with the same devoted, sycophantic enthusiasm. But having Stevie to break up with Maria went beyond the standard Jerkassery.
- Kubrick Stare: Kenny in "Chapter 18" when surveying his failed Independence Day party.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Series finale "Chapter 29" has Stevie read Kenny's screenplay and saying "But the ending—it could have been so much stronger."
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Stevie suffers from this in the fourth season.
- Male Frontal Nudity: From Shawnsee, Kenny's creepy fan, after Kenny and his friends are chased from the water park in "Chapter 24".
- Man on Fire: Ashley Schaeffer in "Chapter 20".
- Metaphorgotten: "If that's what it takes, then a cock and dream it will be sucked upon."
- Ms. Fanservice: Kenny's girlfriend that likes topless jetskiing in Season 1—but see Fan Disservice above.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In season 3, Stevie cheats on Maria. Immediately after he does it, he is so overwhelmed by guilt that he throws up. He spends the next few episodes an emotional wreck.
- National Geographic Nudity: Kenny's Imagine Spot in "Chapter 29" includes a visit to an African tribe that features two topless women—and one bottomless man.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The summary for "Chapter 19" implied that the subject of the episode's Twist Ending (see below) would be a much bigger part of the episode.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Inverted with Ashley Schaeffer, who sounds a lot more like a Cajun Will Ferrell than just plain ol' Will Ferrell in his second appearance.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Every season has a radically different status quo to the extent where the show has no status quo:
- Season 1 had Kenny working as a substitute P.E. teacher in his North Carolina hometown.
- Season 2 had Kenny living in Mexico with the entire supporting cast save for Stevie absent.
- Season 3 had Kenny pitching for a Minor League team in Myrtle Beach and being a deadbeat dad.
- Season 4 had Kenny back in North Carolina, trying to make a home with April.
- Not So Different: Papa Powers to Kenny after they meet while on similar missions to win Kenny's mom over.
- No Title: Episodes are titled only "Chapter 1", "Chapter 2", etc.
- On the Next
- Once a Season: A musical example; the producers love the Black Keys. They've used a song in each season: "Your Touch" in "Chapter 1", "I'm Not the One" in "Chapter 8" and "Lonely Boy" in "Chapter 14".
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Kenny is the living embodiment of this trope.
- Porn Stache: Dustin and Roy both sport 'em in Season 3.
- Previously On
- Red Herring: Kenny's experimenting with a knuckleball grip, as seen in "Chapter 19", is never mentioned again.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Kenny in "Chapter 21".
- Sex for Solace: Shane's sister at his funeral in "Chapter 17".
- Shout-Out: The scene in "Chapter 26" when Kenny is about to upstage Guy Young—ambient noise drops away as a roaring dissonant sound fills Kenny's ears—sure did seem like a satirical takeoff on the scene in The Godfather where Michael kills Solozzo and the cop.
- Sidekick: Stevie is this trope personified, actively identifying himself as such and taking pride in it. It's simultaneously hilarious, creepy and a little depressing.
- Slow Clap: Stevie in "Chapter 12"
- Smash to Black: Lampshaded mercilessly in the very last scene of the show.
Kenny: The End. Cut to black. The audience goes... fucking apeshit.
- Spoof Aesop: Dustin explains to Kenny that he needs to realize he isn't amazing anymore and is back down to the level of normal people. Kenny DOES realize this... but won't accept it, as he's "better than everyone else," and plans to get back into major league baseball.
- Lampshaded in "Chapter 5": after Kenny accepts the Aesop, Dustin tells him to get back into baseball, since it's better than working on home repair.
- Most of season 2 feels like a spoof of a Redemption Quest.
- Surprisingly Good English: Mexican grandma of the family Kenny's staying with in Season 2.
- Sycophantic Servant: Stevie. There appears to be no humiliation Stevie is not willing to suffer in Kenny's service. After Kenny criticizes Stevie's weak chin Stevie blows thousands of dollars on a chin implant.
- Throw It In: A sizable portion of Ashley Schaeffer's and Clegg's dialogue is improvised. The actors also made a couple goofs (such as referring to the Denali as an Escalade, because it was an Escalade in the script) that the producers found too funny to cut.
- Training Montage: A parody of one in "Chapter 23", as Kenny trains for a sports talk show by doing things like learning how to smooth down his pants.
- Trash the Set: Kenny, who is going through some issues, busts up the set of Sports Sesh in "Chapter 28".
- Trilogy Creep: Danny McBride and his co-creators repeatedly insisted that the series would end after three seasons. Cue HBO not advertising the season 3 finale as the series finale and subsequently revealing a season 4.
- Trust Building Blunder: Catching your falling coworker—with the usual result—in "Chapter 15".
- Twist Ending: "Chapter 6". If the show hadn't been renewed, it would've just ended with Kenny and April leaving for Tampa, but the extension led to the call from Anderson and April getting ditched instead.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Kenny Powers seems determined to take this to the extreme.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot
- What Does She See in Him?: Seriously, April, WTF?
- Your Cheating Heart: Stevie in Season 3.