I Have a Completely Rational Hatred for Mark Duplass
The fourth season of FX’s The League doesn’t premiere for a couple months yet, but that doesn’t mean its stars haven’t kept busy. Paul Scheer filmed a second season of Adult Swim’s NTSF:SD:SUV:: this spring. Nick Kroll is working on the Nick Show Kroll for Comedy Central. And Mark Duplass, the ostensible lead of The League, has no less than five movies coming out this summer, which is somewhat ridiculous.
I’ve always had problems with Duplass on The League. Considering the ensemble around him, he always felt like the odd man out. The show already has a much more relatable and sympathetic comic foil in Stephen Rannazzisi, yet Duplass’ acting style isn’t manic or bizarre enough to compete with Scheer, Kroll or Jon Lajoie. He has the demeanor of an everyman but works with material better suited for a more exaggerated character. In other words, he’s the one annoying aspect of an otherwise great show.
I’ve wondered if this was just a result of poor casting. Considering Mark Duplass is somewhat of an indie film darling, having served as a leading figure in the mumblecore movement, I thought it might just be that he didn’t really fit in with The League, which isn’t necessarily his fault. It could be a similar situation to that of former Parks and Recreation cast member Paul Schneider, the proto-normal guy who never really gelled with the rest of the ensemble (Adam Scott basically stepped into that same role when Schneider left the show and has proved a much better fit).
Until recently the only other work I had seen Duplass in was Lynn Shelton’s Humpday, a movie I thought was couldn’t quite handle its high concept plot, and I hadn’t seen any of his directorial efforts with his brother Jay Duplass. But this summer is making me feel that Duplass in general is just an overrated talent. His performance in Your Sister’s Sister, another Lynn Shelton movie, fell completely flat despite the fact that he was working with two actors in Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt who tonally should be a good match for him. Meanwhile, his work in the Aubrey Plaza-starring time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed runs into many of the same issues that hinder him in The League - he is given a character who is a bit extreme and out there, but Duplass just doesn’t seem capable of “out there” characters.
Conclusion: The League’s creators didn’t just screw up in casting Duplass. Duplass screwed up in being Duplass. If that makes any sense. Which it probably doesn’t.