We Shine The Spotlight on THE LEAGUE Creators Jackie and Jeff Schaffer

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Tonight the final Shiva winner will be crowned, and one of the funniest shows on television will come to a close.  It feels like just yesterday we met these terrible, ruthless, and hilarious fantasy football lunatics, it’s sad yet appropriate that we are saying goodbye. THE LEAGUE has had a slew of football players and comedians guest on the cult hit and has featured ridiculous storylines (remember when Jenny faked having cancer). From Mr. McGibblets to Taco Corp, this show was a touchdown and it’s truly depressing that it all comes to an end tonight.

I caught up with the creators of the show, husband and wife power producers Jackie and Jeff Schaffer about tonight’s finale, the final Shiva, and their favorite guest stars over the years.

Was there ever a time when you weren’t sure who should win the Shiva? How do you decide who wins each season?

We try to set up the general arc of the season first, that way you know that things you are doing in the beginning of the season pay off at the end.  For example, in the beginning of the season Pete bumps into his ex-wife Meegan (who’s dating Andre), and now at the end of last week’s episode, she comes back pregnant.

As for the Shiva and the Sacko – We try to balance who wins and loses in fantasy with who wins and loses in life:

At the end of Season 1 we wanted Andre to win the Shiva and because of it lose his girlfriend Shiva.

In season 3, we wanted Kevin to win and hear he’s going to have a son, and be happier about winning the Shiva.

And sometimes it’s not as much about who wins as who loses. (Like when Kevin came in last in Season 5 so we could do the “You’re the Ruxin” church choir.)

It’s all about the funniest stories.

There was an animated portion in last week’s episode. What sparked the idea for that? 

Jackie had wanted to do that since the first time Seth and Jason got together in Season 3. An animated Rafi-Dirty Randy episode seemed like the natural progression for characters’ people thought were inhuman anyway. As Seth himself said, “How were these guys ever not animated?”

Looking back when you began developing the show did you always know how you wanted it to end or did you shape the seasons and finales as time went on. 

When we were developing the show all we could think about was how to shoot the pilot. That was honestly as far as we thought.

It’s like ordering a giant pizza.  You never order it and think “What’s that last bite going to be like?”  When you sit down to eat, you’re really only thinking about that first slice.  Then later you look back and say “Wow, I ate seven pieces! No wonder I’m so exhausted.”

How has this whole experience been for the two of you? Any specific episodes or scenes that stand out as favorites?

Shooting the show is incredibly intimate. We shoot entirely on location so if we are at Kevin’s house we are in the TV room of an actual house, not a set.  And there’s no writing staff, there are no other directors, there are no other producers – the show is made everyday on set by the cast and us.

And every scene is a live rewrite.  It’s an incredible, raucous experience.

Our fondest memories of the show are being on set with the funniest people on the planet making each other laugh every day.

As for favorite episodes…

Jeff: I really loved this year’s draft episode – the Draft of Innocence.  Everyone was forced to live in Andre’s personal vision of fun.  It’s such hell for them.

I think it was the best draft episode we’ve done.  Rafi mistaking the draft for a slave auction is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. And I loved the bartsitsu fight at the end.

As for scenes that are memorable…

One in particular comes to mind.  In season 4, the episode was 12.12.12. Rafi and Dirty Randy were making an end of the world amateur porn because they thought the end was nigh.  And they are making it in Andre’s apartment.  But Andre had sold his apartment to Deion Sanders. Yes, that Deion Sanders.

So we have a scene with Seth Rogen and Jason Mantzoukas, porn star Kayden Kross and Deion Sanders in a scene together. This would only happen on THE LEAGUE.  And it’s capped with Rafi’s immortal line to Prime Time, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re about to get Chlamydia.”

Jackie: And we have to mention getting Marshawn Lynch to joke about the end of the Super Bowl in this year’s season premiere.  We are Seahawk season ticket holders, and having a chance to comedically exorcise those demons, with our favorite player of our favorite team? It was the perfect culmination of everything we love about doing the show.

That was too many favorites. What can we say? It’s a fun show to make.

What can you tell us about the series finale? Can we expect cameos from any fan favorite guest stars?

One fan favorite – Shiva – makes a return. We couldn’t end the show with out the amazing Janina Gavankar.

There’s also a big role played by another guest star – probably the biggest we’ve ever had….

What are some series finales that the two of you have enjoyed over the years? Were there any that you looked to for inspiration while writing THE LEAGUE’s series finale?

We wanted to make very sure that the finale felt like an episode of THE LEAGUE, and ended in a surprising funny way.  Not turn into some other thing with sappy wrap-ups.

The show ends like it began, with these guys learning nothing and spending an extraordinary amount of energy giving each other shit in creative ways.

We thought the MAD MEN ending was pretty sensational, but we wanted to make sure all our cast was together at the end, both in the show and on set for filming the last scene.

So our final day of shooting the whole cast was there together.  And it was fun, and emotional, and retrospective, and a truly amazing send off.

You can watch the series finale of the beloved FXX comedy tonight at 10:00.

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