It’s five letters long, begins with the letter “L,” stars a stand-up comedian, and airs on FX, yet Legit, Australian funnyman Jim Jefferies’s new series is about as far away from Louis C.K.’s revelatory Louie as humanly possible. From its very first scenes, where the comedian explains to his sad-sack roommate, Steve Nugent (Dan Bakkedahl), how beneficial it would be to have a child whose mother dies shortly after giving birth, the series is a nearly unbearable assemblage of recycled sitcom plots that aims to spotlight Jefferies’s specific breed of unashamedly mean-spirited witticisms.
Jefferies’s flagrant theory, blurted out in the middle of a busy immigration office, is that the child would never be able to harness long-lasting hatred toward him because he’s raising a kid all on his own, and any women he attempts to sleep with would instantaneously be attracted to his single-parent widower status. What’s worse is that his character clearly isn’t just running his mouth; he’s dead serious, and, despite his impulsive aspiration to become a model citizen, never makes an honest effort to change his lowly core values. It’s one thing to have an antihero who’s a genuine prick, but it’s another to have one who seems completely unaware of his crudity and how it negatively affects his peers. Yet Jeffries continues to exhibit deplorable behavior even as he consistently makes claims that he wants to better himself by stewarding the less fortunate.
It’s somewhat appropriate, then, that the show’s central theme is one of misplaced good Samaritanism, with the bulk of the early episodes focused on Jefferies’s attempts to feebly rehabilitate Steve’s wheelchair-bound brother, Billy (DJ Qualls). Legit’s awful pilot quickly turns into a lowbrow version of Ben Lewin’s The Sessions, complete with John Hawkes doppelganger Qualls seeking to lose his virginity before his debilitating medical condition (in this case, muscular dystrophy) renders him a vegetable. Against the will of Steve and Billy’s rightfully distressed mother, Janice (Mindy Sterling), Jefferies absconds with Billy from the young man’s hospice and takes him to a brothel. Of course, Billy is the generally carefree terminally ill type compared to his brother Steve’s worry-wort caretaker, and neither is much of a chaser to the harshness of Jefferies, who keeps the unfunny insults flying fast and furious as his “generous deeds” transpire. From introducing Billy to the wonders of booze and narcotics, to helping him brave the perilous world of online dating (at one point he even jerks off the paralyzed man-child to appease a desperate woman on Skype), Jefferies is perpetually glorified as a know-it-all slacker whose insouciant approach to modern life is without drawbacks.
Legit would fare better if it didn’t take itself so seriously, but every episode seems to end in the same misguided, holier-than-thou manner. Jefferies learns something about himself through lazily trying to ease the miseries of those around him (who eventually, begrudgingly, inch closer to accepting their less-than-desirable circumstances brought on by Jefferies’s noxious antics), and a fraudulently uplifting tune plays in the background throughout it all. Never has there been a more inappropriate use of Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave” than when it plays over the creepy visual of Billy’s widely grinning face minutes after busting his nut at the hands of an all-too-willing call girl.