I Think You Should Leave Season 3 Review: Silly, Subversive, and Formulaically Safe

For most audiences, the debut of I Think You Should Leave on Netflix back in 2019 was a complete discovery. Developed by star Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin, the sketches might have featured some recognizable alt-comedy talent, but with Robinson's highest profile project being a brief stint on Saturday Night Live, the series still felt like it came out of nowhere. Even with the sophomore season, there weren't the same expectations among subscribers leading to its release as lauded Netflix Originals like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Bojack Horseman. 

In the years since the release of Season 2, though, the meme-ification of the sketches has turned it into a social-media juggernaut, thanks to countless uses of everything from Bob Odenkirk's "triples is best" to Robinson's "I don't even want to be around anymore," delivered from underneath an old-man disguise. Season 3 delivers the signature silliness of the series that Robinson has perfected, and while there are performances and dialogue that are sure to dominate social media imminently, these new episodes rest on their laurels a bit, playing it safe when the first two seasons surprised us at every turn.

Other than the talent involved in the project, there's little cohesion that runs through the overall series, with the format seeing each episode running 15-17 minutes and consisting of a handful of sketches ranging from three to seven minutes. While it's not explicitly stated, the title of the series does encapsulate the idea that the characters in the sketches wear out their welcomes in any situation almost immediately, but the delight in the series is derived from seeing just how deeply these figures dig themselves into all manner of societal holes. 

The Season 3 premiere makes a strong argument for being the best episode in the entire series. Kicking off with a sketch that begins as a lampoon of political talk shows and descends into a passionate confession about cell phones, audiences are immediately inundated with the unhinged lunacy of Robinson's signature shouting. Following this up with a sketch where an office meeting gets derailed when an offhanded comment is taken too literally, a parody of The Bachelorette focusing on a contestant more interested in the locale's amenities, a guest-starring Fred Armisen attempting to deceive his children, and a slow-building sketch whose punchline is entirely visual, the premiere feels like a greatest hits of what Robinson and Kanin have accomplished with the series. 

Part of what makes I Think You Should Leave such a treat for viewers is its wholehearted embrace of silliness for the sake of silliness. While plenty of comedy series and sketch programs use cultural touchstones as jumping-off points, I Think You Should Leave delivers a timelessness with its tomfoolery, with even a parody of The Bachelorette being less about lampooning the real-life absurdity of the competition and instead allowing a platform to highlight a character who exploits the unexpected offerings of such a game show. In fact, when a later sketch references Kim Kardashian, it feels jarring to have the show reference a real-life figure.

Over the subsequent five episodes, we're given some of the best sketches in the series, exploring the true benefits of a technologically advanced dog door, what happens when silly wedding photos backfire, and the fallout of someone who is desperate to make viral videos. Robinson is centered in many of the sketches, but it's guest-starring appearances from Tim Meadows, Sam Richardson, and Conner O'Malley that steal the show. Fans will also appreciate the returns of Patti Harrison (who is criminally underused and only appears in one sketch) and Biff Wiff, who deservedly earned acclaim in all previous appearances.

As shocking as it is to admit, what holds the series back is how repetitive Robinson's characters are in this batch of episodes, not only from one sketch to the next, but also compared to former characters. Previous seasons have proven how Robinson is just as hilarious whether he is having maniacal outbursts or is attempting to keep his cool, but the lack of diversity in both the premises and the characters means the sketches start to feel redundant. This isn't to say that these sketches aren't entertaining, though given how absurdly ambitious and surprising the previous 12 episodes are, this new season is a bit more predictable in execution. 

The resounding success of the first two seasons is partially to blame for that repetitive feeling, as those episodes featuring commercials going in entirely unexpected directions, game shows failing miserably, or inter-office dynamics igniting awkwardness stick so strongly in our memories that we can't help but be reminded of them when familiar premises are unveiled. Any fan of the first two seasons will be able to identify a surrogate for each sketch in Season 3, and while these premises for a sketch aren't entirely beholden to the minds behind I Think You Should Leave, the success of those sketches will create unjust comparisons to payoffs in familiar premises from Season 3 and how they were explored in previous seasons. 

Since its inception, I Think You Should Leave has felt like the perfect blend of Mr. Show with Bob and David's experimental sketch formats and unconventional humor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!'s embrace of eccentricities and absurdities. Robinson and his collaborators don't seem to want to hide that influence, with Season 2 seeing an appearance from Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk and Tim and Eric's Tim Heidecker starring in sketches in all three seasons. Much like how both of those series helped define their respective decades of comedy, I Think You Should Leave's impact is sure to influence not only countless imitators, but it's also impacting its own output. With seasons coming at a pace of every two years, we won't be surprised if Season 3 ends up being the series' sendoff, as Robinson and Kanin explore other opportunities, which would allow it to conclude with an impressive output in which it was consistently hilarious. This latest season might be a bit of a step back from the hilarity of the first 12 episodes, but it is still funnier than just about any sketch series out there.

Rating: 4 out of 5

(Photo: Netflix)

I Think You Should Leave Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.