Yesterday, Nick Kroll announced that his Comedy Central sketch comedy series, Kroll Show, would be ending after its third season, which premieres January 13. Of course, it sucks if you’re a Kroll Show fan to think that they’ll be no more new “Too Much Tuna” or “PubLIZity” after this year, but reading Kroll’s explanation, it’s hard to feel like there isn’t dignity in this move. Considering the meta and enmeshed world Kroll and his cohorts — like Jon Daly, Jenny Slate, John Mulaney, Amy Poehler, and Chelsea Peretti — have created in just two seasons so far, it seems like a graceful move that pays respect to the distinct characters that Kroll somehow connects and the viewers who love them. The Atlantic went as far as to deem the move noble, and a model for other showrunners.
“It crossed my mind, but my feeling was the people who watched the show have come to identify with and relate to certain characters, and if we just started anew, it could be disappointing to the fans,” Kroll told Vulture of a fourth season. “To be like, ‘And all those characters that you had invested in, they’re gone now. And I’ll be doing my new singing-telegram character.’ So that was kind of the feeling. It’s just maintaining the purity of what we’re doing.”
“We laid a foundation in season one, and in season two, we really began to go more in-depth with a lot of the characters and start to tell these more long-form stories. In season three, we continued to dive deeper into those characters and begin to cross worlds even more, as we had done at the end of season two. It really is very intertwined and enmeshed, so it felt like that was a good time to be like, ‘We’re done.'”
Kroll Show is comedy that feels very close to what it mocks: television, mostly reality (Degrassi ripoff “Wheels Ontario” is the only scripted show in the Kroll universe). Not only is the medium the same, Kroll’s parodies are so spot-on accurate, you may find yourself drifting off only to look back at the TV and wonder, “Why am I watching Bravo or VH1 in 2008?” At times Kroll Show can walk the line between freaky-accurate realism for the sake of satirizing America’s lowest-common-denominator entertainment, and straight-up feeding into the need for over-the-top reality show personalities.
In general, Kroll does a better job at keeping the focus light, kooky, and apparently humorous, unlike others who’ve walked the same line. Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High prequel Ja’mie: Private School Girl comes to mind as a show that committed to its joke so much, it wound up feeling almost as annoying as an episode of My Super Sweet 16. I’m not saying Kroll would ever go that far with it, but what he pulls off so well is more delicate than it seems.
Last season, the overlapping aspect of Kroll’s unrelated bits went to weird places, the biggest of which was C-Czar from “Dad Academy” being Pretty Liz’s baby daddy on “PubLIZity.” The show built up to this connection until the viewer saw it coming, making it feel less forced. If they can do this a few more times with other signature sketches, I imagine it would feel like the circle is complete, in a sense.
“As we started to get towards the end of the season, it just became clear that we wrapped up a lot of the stories and characters that we had created, and felt like we had brought a number of them to their natural conclusion,” Kroll added in his Vulture interview. “So, as opposed to stringing out more seasons, we wanted to feel like we were going out with the best work that we’ve done. As I’m sure you’ve watched a lot of shows you’ve loved continue to make shows because they could and the quality began to dwindle.”