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In an age where a lot of successful shows run past their prime, this one was always intended to be 2 9-episode seasons, allowing for a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. The story is about a pair of rival vice principals named Neal Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins). While both started off as pretty despicable characters, at least Gamby was showing signs of redemption but whether or not he and/or Russell get their redemption is up to interpretation. This show has had a lot of funny moments, however, the human element has been just as compelling to watch.
Last season ended with a cliffhanger when Gamby was shot by a masked assailant. The identity of the assailant may seem obvious but the answer may surprise you but it took awhile to get the answer. Of course Gamby wasn’t going to die there but his long recovery time meant that Russell would become the principal of North Jackson high school. That was not the only thing different about the school as Russell had added his personal touch much to the dismay of Gamby and the other teachers. Once Gamby confronted Russell about his shooting, Russell denied it by talking his way out of it by offering to help find Gamby’s real shooter.
Gamby went to great lengths to find his shooter, running his own investigation and moving to a more remote location so he could set traps around his house. He was also linked to a fellow teacher who he still had feelings for named Amanda Snodgrass (Georgia King) who may or may not still have feelings for Gamby despite being in another relationship with an older author named Brian Biehn (Fisher Stevens) who was also helping her publish her novel but he had different motives.
Russell thought he was liked by everyone as principal but the teachers thought otherwise and wanted him fired. The teachers were conspiring against him, however, he had no idea what was going on which Gamby used to his advantage to finally become popular. Meanwhile, this season peeled a few layers back on Russell as we got a glimpse into his backstory which helped to explain the way he was. The past came back to hurt him again with his jealousy leading to he and his wife Christine (Susan Park) getting divorced. The final blow was when Gamby found evidence connecting Russell to his shooting and lost the principal job. This didn’t come as much of a surprise as it would be the obvious choice looking back.
While the writers could have taken the easy way out, Russell proved his innocence in the series finale by determining that his actual shooter was a teacher and also his obsessive girlfriend/admirer Jen Abbott (Edi Patterson) who exacted her revenge with a tiger. After a time jump, the characters got their happy ending while still allowing the possibility of the show continuing. Gamby became principal at another school with Snodgrass as his girlfriend and Russell became a regional manager of a clothing store.
The acting was great throughout but it definitely would not have worked without McBride and Goggins as Gamby and Russell. What made the characters were the writing and the chemistry between them as they sold the relationship and their various eccentricities while giving them some humanity. They may each have had their over the top moments, however, they never came off as caricatures. Their ups and down and seeing them be redeemed were fun to watch even though it seemed like it wouldn’t happen.
Overall, this was a good season full of funny moments for these characters. Seeing them get their redemption and a happy ending was fun to watch and satisfying thanks to the great writing and performances of Danny McBride and Walton Goggins.
Series Score: 8/10