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The 50 best TV shows of 2021, No 10: I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson

·3-min read

The second season of the bite-size absurdist sketch show took bizarre humour to a new high – and one viewing just wasn’t enough

Here is the experience of watching comic Tim Robinson’s sketch show I Think You Should Leave: a breathless giggling fit, uncontrollable laughter and not quite being able to remember what you originally found so funny. After watching one of its skits, you were primed to laugh at anything and everything – often at the most inappropriate moments.

Landing on Netflix in 2019, Robinson’s first season was six episodes, running at around 15 minutes each. They were packed with so much absurdist humour that they had viewers coming back for rewatches to decipher the unfurling gags. The character “focus group man” even became a wildly popular meme, turning an eightysomething actor into the subject of endless gifs, thanks to a habit of relentlessly shouting absurd comments such as “Stinky!” across the reasonable suggestions of his fellow attendee Paul.

When the second season of I Think You Should Leave premiered in July this year, it took this spiralling premise to an apex of giggle-inducing, bite-size television. Here, Robinson’s surreal world reached peak form. There are segments such as the Corncob TV Coffin Flop sketch – a reality TV satire, where a television exec sings the praises of his show that films corpses falling out of coffins at funerals. Even though one in five corpses is inexplicably naked. “I say we don’t need the family’s permission! We’re allowed to show them nude because they ain’t got no soul!”

There’s the awful hat guy. He unwittingly becomes the subject of an insider trading trial, when the prosecutor reads out a text message exchange full of gossip from colleagues about his attempt to use terrible headgear to appear cool. “I swear to fucking God, he tried to roll the hat down his arm like Fred Astaire, but the back flap got trapped around Rick’s wheelchair,” reads the prosecutor. Cue the camera panning to hat guy, sat in the courtroom stalls, face turning red as he adjusts a grey fedora with safari flaps hanging down the back.

Then there’s the diner friend, a weirdly touching skit where a dad appeals to a stranger (a spectacularly stony-faced Bob Odenkirk) in a restaurant to back up a lie to his child about the ice-cream store being closed. He gets dragged into a fantastical backstory by the stranger, forced to agree with ever-more ludicrous statements such as: “I own every kind of classic car. And I’m rich. And I don’t live in a hotel.”

Just like that snowballing white lie, in its second season Robinson and his co-stars pulled at the threads of their gags almost to the point of unravelling the very sense of them – and left viewers astounded at their capacity to create hilarity from increasingly outrageous situations.

There are meme generators dedicated to the show. There are Twitter accounts in its honour. Because, as many viewers found out in 2021, this is a show that made you want to keep the laughter going. Its sketches are so incredibly rewatchable that one viewing isn’t enough. Once you’ve seen them, you want to press play again and again – and again.

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