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Series / Baskets

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Baskets is a Black Comedy / Dramedy series that first aired in January 21, 2016 on FX. It follows Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), a flunkee of a French clown academy who returns to his hometown in Bakersfield, California only to be stuck as a low-life rodeo clown. The series mostly plays out as Slice of Life but ventures into darker territory in dramatic moments and concerning Chip's failed ambitions.

It ran for four seasons of ten episodes each between 2016 and 2019.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: The plot of "Cowboys" where Chip and Martha believe that rodeo boss Eddy is taking them on a road trip to finish off a clown who subjected the rodeo to animal rights protests last episode. Turns out the gun Eddy is supposed to use as a murder weapon is a birthday gift to his half-Native American son and he already arranged the clown to have his legs broken instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series ends with the Basket's Family Rodeo being torn down to make room for the bullet train heading for Bakersfield and Christine moving to Denver to live with Ken. Chip has no more rodeo to run and no place after he sells his condo, but he and Christine have finally come to an understanding about how she needs to treat him like an adult and their relationship is much healthier. While Penelope encourages him to get back into clowning and Chip seems interested, he admits in the end to having no idea where his life is going next, but still being totally at peace and happy with the uncertainty.
  • Breakout Character: Christine. Louie Anderson's portrayal has drawn rave reviews from critics and fans. The producers apparently recognized this, as she receives nearly equal focus with Chip from season 2 onward.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Penelope only agrees to marry Chip in the pilot just to get her green card and escape her overbearing French lifestyle under her father.
  • Clown School: A serious type that is The Académie de Clown Français where Chip studied.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Louie Anderson as Chip's mother Christine.
  • Darker and Edgier: Takes Zach Galifianakis' rep as playing Manchildren with a large dose of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Although it's implied a few times that Penelope has fallen for Chip, ultimately they don't start a real relationship.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Implied with Dale's family given his domineering attitude, Sarah, his elder daughter, thinking that her problems would be worse to deal with her dad, the daughters' dismayed reactions on Dale's return in "Uncle Dad" and that they kick him out at the season finale.
  • Emotionless Girl: Martha, in an uncommon humorous variant, whether she is under threat of losing her job, getting bit by a snake or having sex with her friend's twin brother.
  • Evil Twin: Chip's twin brother Dale calls him this on his debut and indeed Chip is everything he strives not to be.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Chip (Foolish) and Dale (Reponsible).
    • The dynamic actually switches halfway through season 2, Chip's character development makes him much more grounded and serious about launching his career, while Dale's affair and divorce leads to a mid-life crisis and becoming a petty manchild.
  • Hidden Depths: Penelope initially just seems to be a heartless manipulator who only marries Chip for the green card, but flashbacks and later interactions reveal that she actually feels guilty for using Chip and tried to talk him out of the marriage. Their conversations in seasons 2 and 3 even imply that she might be be falling back in love with him.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Chip has curly hair, Dale's hair is straightened. Additionally Chip has a grey streak through his beard while Dale's is all brown.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Morpheus is fatally beaned by a railroad sign, while yelling at Chip to enjoy living life.
  • Language Barrier: While in France, Chip does not know even the basics of French to get around.
  • Literal-Minded: When explaining their street act to Trinity, Chip calls her the straight man. Not understanding the term, she objects, "I'm a bisexual woman."
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Chip is creative, sensitive and withdrawn but also bitter and pretentious, Dale is bombastic, charismatic and optimistic but also cruel and overly competitive.
  • Single-Minded Twins: The DJ Twins Cody and Logan Baskets in contrast with their very divergent elder twin brothers.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Dale runs a rinky-dink trade school, and treats it like the biggest thing in the world.
  • Song of Prayer: A blackly humorous version; Christine is overwhelmed by running her new rodeo with her sometimes-moronic sons Chip and Dale and follows a pastor's advice by penning a hymn as a prayer to God. When Chip's French clown friends spend Thanksgiving with her they sing it aloud to cheer her up, and we hear her asking God for guidance in the lyrics... And offering her sons as a sacrifice, Abraham-style.
  • Street Performer: During his stay in Paris, Chip is befriended by a clique of street artists, all accomplished tumblers, clowns, and dancers, who eventually come to visit him in America. In Season 2, Chip takes uo busking himself and is surprisingly good at it.
  • Tempting Fate: Working at Arby's often being alluded as a "real job" compared to being a clown. Chips quits his job for Arby's in the season finale to support his half for his mother's caretaking bills.
  • Theme Naming: The members of the street family that Chip joins are all named after The Matrix characters.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Chip and Dale are named guessed it.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Season 1 ends with Chip losing his job when the rodeo shuts down, losing his wife when Christine forces her back to France and she divorces him, having to cope with his mother's health when she falls into a diabetic coma, being forced to give up his career for a degrading job at Arby's to pay for her caretaking, being humiliated when his younger brothers just cover the bills themselves, finding out his best friend slept with his brother, finding out his father killed himself when he was 9, and finally having to live with his brother at their mother's house following his divorce. The line keeps going well into season 2 as well with Chip joining a strung out street family, running from the cops, watching his friend die in a train accident and finally getting arrested and bailed out by his mother.
  • The Un Favourite: Three ways actually, Chip considers himself this because he thinks he's a screw-up still pursuing his art while his brothers found successful careers, Dale considers himself this because his more artistic brothers get much more of their mother's attention, and both Chip and Dale consider themselves this compared to Cody and Logan because Christine openly heaps way more praise on them and all their accomplishments.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Christine has progressively fewer cats each season with no explanation as to where they went, starting with 3 in the first season, 2 in the second and by the third season she's down to just Ronald for the rest of the series.