Season 3 may not be as consistent, but it still brings plenty of hilariously weird and uncomfortable situations.
It’s difficult to explain to an average human the madness that is I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. You could say it’s a sketch comedy show that combines surrealist imagery, social satire, and existential dread into tiny bursts of joyful chaos. Or you could point to the title. Every sketch–usually three to five an episode–features a character that’s so annoying or goes against social norms in such extremely inappropriate ways you want to scream at them to leave the room immediately.
Chicago, by way of Detroit, legend and show creator Tim Robinson plays most of these troubled characters. He has the Charles Grodin-like ability to embody a complete doofus so sure of his own rightness that we feel like the moron. Now in its third season on Netflix, I Think You Should Leave has gone from bizarre curiosity to King of pop culture memedom. The memes should continue to flow after this latest batch of insanity Robinson and friends have unleashed.
This collection may not be as consistent as the first two seasons. None of the sketches here reach the hilarious emotional depths of season two’s “Prank Show” or the gut-busting jokes of season one’s “Instagram.” But sketches (especially ones this bizarre and ludicrous) can get better with repeat viewings. Like listening to a great album, songs can open up more the longer you listen and digest the notes.
For example, the first time I watched the Walk the Line-inspired “Bones are their dollars” sketch from season one, I honestly didn’t get it. By the 20th time I watched it, I couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. The same applies to season 3. I didn’t love this sketch, but I assume by next year, I’ll be saying, “Back away, banana breath, what did you just eat? A banana?” under my breath multiple times a day.
This season’s sketches run the gamut for typical sketch premises. There are fake commercials, like a spot for a heart monitor aid that Tim’s character needs after partying too hard at the clubs. The show also loves the awkwardness of workplace relationships, as in a sketch where Tim plays a co-worker who hears a loud noise during a meeting and insists it’s a volcano exploding.
[Robinson] has the Charles Grodin-like ability to embody a complete doofus so sure of his own rightness that we feel like the moron.
However, what separates I Think You Should Leave from others is that there is no “typical” structure. The sketches usually never end where they start, and things can go from silly to poignant in a second. For instance, that heart monitor sketch turns from a commercial to a story about the relationship between a man and his doctor who just wants to get into exclusive nightclubs. The volcano sketch turns into a meditation on the drudgery of work when Tim’s co-worker gets yelled at for telling him he’s interesting.
Since none of the episodes have a set theme–only one sketch has a callback in a later episode–the show lets the individual sketches speak for themselves. So instead of rating the season overall, here are the top five sketches of season 3 that sum up what makes the show special.
5. “Pay it Forward”- Ep 3
A perfect Tim Robinson character that combines smarmy know-it-all with pathetic desperation. He plays a man at a fast food drive-in who plots a scheme where he pays for the person’s food behind him, only to use that to his advantage to drive back around and order $680 worth of food, hoping the person ahead of him pays for it. When he attempts to escape and gets caught, he tries to escape by saying, “I just wanted to do something nice before alcohol class.”.
4. “Dad at Wedding”- Ep. 5
Robinson loves bringing along some comedic genius friends to help out with the show, like long-time Detroiters pal Sam Richardson and SNL alum Tim Meadows, who puts this sketch on the shortlist by just him screaming, “Three seconds to think of something silly? That’s fucking insane.”
3. “Darmine Doggy Door”- Ep. 2
A sketch that perfectly encapsulates how horrifically silly I Think You Should Leave can be. It starts as a commercial parody about a doggy door that only lets dogs in but then takes a turn when a pig monster straight out of The Thing attacks Tim. It turns out it was just his neighbor’s pig wearing a Richard Nixon mask, but at least it leads him to realize he hates his job.
2. “Barley Tonight”- Ep 1
The first sketch of the season and the best pure sketch writing of the batch. Tim plays the host of a political debate show. Anytime he finds himself on the losing side of the argument, he slouches in his chair and pulls out his phone. The sketch gets funnier as it goes when he mumbles about his mom, and his guests genuinely ask about her. “I gotta do something for my mom. She’s not getting any hot water.”
1. “Shirt Brothers”- Ep 4
This is the emotional high point of the season. Tim plays a father attending his daughter’s school concert. There he runs into Shane, the grandfather of another kid at the school. They also happen to be wearing the same shirt. Shane quickly forms a bond with him about the shirt, even though Tim has no idea why. He creepily smiles at him during the concert and then suddenly taps him on the shoulder. “Shirt brother, you gotta help me. I’m in deep fucking trouble here.”
He leads Tim to a destroyed classroom. Turns out Shane has been listening to a song on repeat that tells him there are no rules. The ones people insist exist, he shouldn’t follow. So after “draining his lizard,” he finds an empty classroom and breaks everything. They have a heart-to-heart about feeling inspired when life feels flat. Then Shane makes him promise not to follow another rule again as the score swells. With the fake “No Rules” song playing, Tim runs back to the gym just in time for his daughter’s solo. It’s nonsensical, hilarious, and weirdly moving. It’s the perfect I Think You Should Leave sketch.
I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson is making it weird now on Netflix.