Kenny Powers is back — sort of

From the creators of 'Eastbound & Down' character Kenny Powers (played by Danny McBride), HBO comedy 'Vice Principals' follows two VPs — one portrayed by McBride — vying for school domination.

click to enlarge Walton Goggins (left) and Danny McBride in 'Vice Principals' - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Walton Goggins (left) and Danny McBride in 'Vice Principals'

Vice Principals (10:30 p.m. Sundays, HBO) is basically Eastbound & Down — there, I said it. The new HBO comedy from the creators of Eastbound character Kenny Powers (played by Danny McBride) follows two VPs competing for world school domination: Neal Gamby (McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins). There’s no denying that Gamby bears a striking resemblance to Powers, even without the mullet.

And it’s not just the fact that McBride, as this show’s co-creator and co-star, puts his unique stamp on both Gamby and Powers. Both characters work at schools, despite the fact that neither is equipped to shape children’s minds; they’re both megalomaniacal adult-sized children, the walking embodiment of “I know you are, but what am I?” This shtick is befitting of a failed baseball player (Powers), and the same qualities are all too perfect for a vice principal of discipline. 

But McBride’s Gamby finds his match in Goggins and his character, Russell. This VP of curriculum is a bona fide Southern dandy who’s just as intent on raising hell as Gamby. He just goes about it with his own style. Goggins is an over-the-top character actor in his own right (see his work in Justified or Sons of Anarchy), so seeing him face off against and then team up with McBride is a delight.

So we have another comedy starring McBride as an unrealistic authority figure on an ego trip, grasping at straws for any semblance of power. Maybe not the most original premise, but in this time of tired sequels and ill-fated reboots (they tried to remake Uncle Buck!), let’s take what we can get. And what we get from Vice Principals is the kind of humor that might well be too offensive if it weren’t so undeniably hilarious.


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