Workaholics Review: "Wolves of Rancho"

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<i>Workaholics</i> Review: "Wolves of Rancho"

After six seasons of Workaholics, it’s surprising how consistently this show’s best episodes still focus on the actual workplace. In past seasons—especially the fourth and worst season—Adam, Anders and Blake left the office that gave us series highs and lows (roadkill burrito, I will never forget you, unfortunately). “Wolves of Rancho” gives us the office without the office, sending these three to a new branch of TelAmeriCorp, which ends up not quite feeling like an episode about them, but rather an episode about their weird new surroundings.

As the title implies, “Wolves of Rancho” is a C-grade version of The Wolf of Wall Street. Instead of hookers and cocaine, the Van Nuys TelAmeriCorp is more about Carl’s Jr. breakfast coupons and Pauly Shore appearances. Obviously, this is enough for our trio, but the new offices, new suits and prominent amount of complimentary hair gel doesn’t hurt either.

Even for an episode of Workaholics, “Wolves of Rancho” feels incredibly light on plot. The first two thirds are little more than a Wolf of Wall Street parody, while the final third relies on Alice’s ex-husband and Van Nuys branch head honcho JP (played by Dane Cook) trying to get revenge on his ex-wife. The three guys end up going back to their old offices to steal Alice’s presentation and allow JP to use it for the company’s big presentation, which clearly blows up in his face. When JP opens the presentation to discover that it is nothing but pictures of him with women and cocaine, I was honestly surprised and underwhelmed that this was what the episode had been building to.

But “Wolves of Rancho” doesn’t really feel like an episode about Anders, Adam and Blake because they’re simply just cogs in a larger game between branch managers. The only real mark they leave here is what they each decorate their offices like: Anders goes faux classy, Adam’s desperately has him trying to look like a bro and Blake goes full samurai. Frankly, this isn’t an episode that needs them at its center—it’s enough to just have them engaging in the madness.

Because of this, the Van Nuys bosses truly stand out, with Cook as JP and Liam Hemsworth as JP’s right hand man Cushing Ward. Despite being telemarketers, they present their office like an insane stock market office, where you almost expect Jonah Hill to show up high on ‘ludes. But the watering down of this ideal is what makes JP and Cushing funny without being too creepy (although they’re still big creeps) and allows the trio to embrace their new surroundings. As much as they try to pretend they’re big dogs, Adam, Blake and Anders work as characters because of their childlike innocence. It allows them to come off as stupid, rather than as creeps or assholes. You better believe if the Van Nuys branch had prostitutes and cocaine, they’d be terrified of how over their heads they were.

Cook is just as over-the-top as he needs to be. He doesn’t unleash the full Dane Cook experience that can be so frustrating. Cook has grown as a comedian over the last decade or so to not rely on his usual bag of tricks and it’s great to see him being more reserved, even though he is essentially playing the Leonardo DiCaprio part here. Hemsworth doesn’t get the big spotlight that Cook does, mostly playing Ward straight, but it’s also nice to see him trying out comedy, especially when the episode-ending “NICE” is this fantastic.

“Wolves of Rancho” reintroduces us to the gang by allowing them to just be pieces in a crazy game that’s fun to spend time in. As a silly parody, “Wolves of Rancho” is an enjoyable half hour of Workaholics and a decent way to get back to the adventures of Adam, Ders and Blake. After the surprising character building of season five, it’s a little light to start off number six, but there’s plenty of time to make up for that.

Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.