8:00am PT by Dave McCoy
'The League' Bosses on the Final Season and Their Best Draft Concept Yet
Jackie Marcus Schaffer sounds out of breath.
"We're calling from a crazy day of shooting in downtown L.A. ..."
Her husband, Jeff Schaffer, interrupts her, also sounding slightly rattled: "We're shooting everybody running through like six lanes of traffic so ... it's hard for our group of smart-asses."
Action sequences aren't really what come to mind when you think of The League. Kevin (Steven Rannazzisi) and Ruxin's (Nick Kroll) painfully funny emotional and physical humiliation? Yes. Andre's (Paul Scheer) pupil-damaging wardrobe? Sure. Rafi's (Jason Mantzoukas) revolting sexual habits? Naturally. Not action.
But it's the final season of FXX's rowdy, uproarious and wonderfully offensive comedy, and the Schaffers -- the husband-and-wife showrunning team that are hands-on with even the tiniest of the show's details -- don't want to leave anything on the field, so to speak.
They also want fans to know that though the series is technically coming to an end after seven seasons, the characters may live on. While taking a break from playing in traffic, they spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their final season and more.
Why end the show now?
Jeff: I guess one [reason] is that we always want to let people leave with some sort of like, "Great, I want to see more." Not, "Oh my God, that's still on?" At the same time, I'm not sure you've seen the end of all these people, either. It may feel like an end, but it doesn't feel like an ending to us because I don't think we're quite done with these characters.
So, you're saying there's the possibility for The Rafi Show?
Jackie: There's a whole bunch of possibilities right now.
Jeff: We can't say much now, but what we can say is there will definitely be another Rafi and Dirty Randy episode this season.
Can you talk about this year's draft -- "The Draft of Innocence" -- without giving too much away? It may be the best draft concept you've had.
Jeff: Last year Andre won the league and he also won a beach house, which promptly exploded in a fireball. (Laughs.) But the one thing that comes with being a champion is you get to decide what the draft is like. So everyone else in the league is now subject to an Andre-style draft, and what we learn is that he is enamored with the Gilded Age and so there's a 19th century draft. Everyone has to come in costume, and Kevin says, "The draft used to be my favorite day of the year and now I don't even wanna go." The other thing we did to switch things up this year is the league has committed to an auction-styled draft instead of the traditional snake draft. So that leads to tremendous complications, as Taco and Rafi both don't quite understand what they're auctioning off.
The Rafi stuff is ... unbelievable.
Jeff: Rafi's idea of an auction was a no-brainer.
Now that you're into your seventh season, do you find yourselves struggling to create new, weird situations or do these characters make it endlessly easy?
Jackie: It's so easy that every year we end up with a ton of ideas on the board that we didn't even get a chance to do. This season, after six years, Kevin is finally going to investigate his deep question of where does his gardener go to the bathroom. Now, this is something that Jeff had wanted answered since the pilot ...
Jeff: No one is letting him use their house! This is insane. It's been sitting on the board since 2009. Jackie had somehow managed to come up with enough other stuff that he's been squeezed out of six seasons. So this year, I was like, "Goddammit, we're doing where does the gardener go to the bathroom!"
Jackie: Are we going to end the season with a shit-ton of ideas up on the board that we won't have gotten to be able to do in the show? We are. But if Jeff gets this, he's going to die happy.
Jeff: We don't run out of stories because of the characters. But also every year, the NFL, like a crazy rich uncle we never see, just drops some stories off at our door. I think after six seasons, it's easier because you got all of these great guest-characters that we want to see. We get to see Will Forte, the eighth and most wayward member of the league. We haven't seen him since he was resting his balls on Ruxin's head. We catch up with Leslie Bibb. She is Pete's ex whom we haven't seen in forever, so she makes a comeback in a big way.
Do you guys have one costume designer that's dedicated just for Andre's awfulness?
Jackie: (Laughs.) It has been an amazing ride with many costume designers over the years. Each one of them has made sure that Andre's style has evolved from general douche to, say, "boyfriend chameleon," if you remember that. Picking up the style of the girl he was dating. Very, very ill-advised. (Laughs.) Every costume designer has come in with their ideas for Andre, and it's really, really exciting.
Jeff: The trick is, too, fashion evolves in seven years, so Andre's fashion has needed to evolve just behind that. Andre needs to be just a little bit late and a little bit wrong every year.
Jackie: This year, Jeff and I spent a lot of time in Seattle and we walked by a sports kilt store. You know, this is not Scotland, people are not of Scottish heritage, and these guys in Seattle are selling on mannequins very high-end intricate kilts. And we looked at that and we couldn't contain our glee. Because that just sounded exactly like the kind of thing that Andre would be subject to buying.
Do you still play fantasy football?
Jeff: Yeah, we both still do. We have the league in "The League." It is Jackie and I and the cast. We've been going strong. Jackie has won it twice. I finally won last year.
If you had an open spot in your league, which of the characters are you inviting to join and why?
Jeff: Definitely Taco. Because it's so fun to watch him beat other people. … OK, true story. So last year, we're in the makeup trailer. It's Steven Rannazzisi (Kevin) and Jon LaJoie (Taco). And Rannazzisi is just pissed. He's cursing how he lost in fantasy. He can't believe it, his team just stinks, can't believe he lost, and Jon, who's sitting there, says, "Oh that's too bad. Who'd you lose to?" And Steve looks at him and he says, "You! I lost to you!" Jon had no idea. He had two guys on a bye week and still beat Steve.
Wow, that's fantastic. Jackie?
Jackie: One hundred percent Andre. I mean, Andre is a guy that not only steps in it, he literally invites himself into the mud pit to just be completely decimated all the time. And you know, a great fantasy league is made up by a great fantasy league shit-talking message board. And without a guy like Andre, who's everybody going to gang up against?
All right, so the last question that everyone wants to know: Does Mark Duplass sleep?
Jeff: None of them sleep! We love that they all want to do other things and they come here and get to play with us. We deal with all the production headaches and all that stuff. They just have to come here and be super funny. And it's worked out well. The cast has been so fun for seven years, every day. I mean, literally, every day they're all saying things I'd never thought I'd hear before and just some of the funniest discussions I've ever heard.
The League season seven premiere airs Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. on FXX.