Joining the ranks of hugely popular adult animated comedy shows like ‘Bojack Horseman‘, ‘Big Mouth‘, and ‘Family Guy‘, is ‘Hoops’, a Netflix Original series created by Ben Hoffman. It stars Jake Johnson (of ‘New Girl‘ fame) as a profanity-spouting high school basketball coach who is passionate about the sport even if he lacks any particular talent for it. The series follows Coach Ben Hopkins as he entangles himself in ludicrous and often inappropriate antics to make his team of incompetent misfits win against better players. It’s funny, it’s offensive and it does not shy away from some very colorful language so if that’s not something you can digest, better look another way. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
Coach Ben Hopkins loves basketball. Too bad he sucks at it. As the coach of the Lenwood High Colts, Hopkins likes to tell his players that their utter lack of talent on the basketball court is due to their bad genes and short heights. He also likes to tell his players that they’re fat and ugly and hateable, in a totally non-judgemental, non-shaming way, of course. What Coach Ben needs to get a win for his inept team is the tallest kid in school – Matty – to sign up. And Coach Ben will do anything it takes, no matter how inappropriate (and weird) it is, to get Matty to join the team.
Creating more problems for Coach Hopkins as he tries to win his way to pro league sports and, eventually, an infinity pool is the school principal Opal Lowry (a morally ambiguous woman strangely fixated on oral sex) who wants Coach to attend anger management classes, and his father Barry Hopkins, former pro basketball player and steakhouse owner, who is forever telling Coach Ben what a disappointment he is. Not to mention the thousands of dollars worth of steak Barry is willing to give away for free if the Colts win, just because he knows they don’t ever win!
And lastly, there is the love of Ben’s life – his wife Shannon – who has left him and is now shacking it up with Ben’s best friend and assistant coach of the Colts, Ron. Ben wants her back and will not sign the divorce papers, though he’s cool with Ron sleeping with his wife.
In the episodes leading up to the finale, we get to see more of the history of the main adult characters – Ben, Shannon, Barry, Ron, and Opal, as they open up to the school’s grief counselor. The flashbacks give us a better insight into the relationship dynamics between Ben and Shannon.
Ben, who used to be a nice, polite guy in school, changed drastically when he met the foul-mouthed teenage trainwreck, Shannon. Ben kind of just took on the personality traits of Shannon and became the Ben we know in the present. Shannon, on the other hand, became disenchanted after years of being together and realized that Ben is a toxic influence in her life (even though it was initially the other way around).
Cut to the present when, in the penultimate episode, Ben has to share a ride with Shannon to Cincinnati, where a prestigious tournament is taking place. During the road trip, Shannon’s truck gets stolen and they are stranded in the middle of nowhere with just a cowboy bar nearby. While trying to find a way to reach Cincinnati, Shannon feels a spark of attraction towards Ben and they end up doing “it” in the bar’s storage room after Ben gives her the signed divorce papers as a birthday present.
In the season finale, we see an absolutely over-the-moon, ecstatic Ben telling literally everyone he meets that he slept with his wife. He is having just the best day until he goes to dinner with Shannon and she breaks up with him, for good. She has also broken up with Ron, deciding that she does not want either of them. This really puts a damper in Coach’s mood and he is thoroughly depressed until a scout from a fancy prep school arrives hoping to recruit Matty, the Colts’ star player.
But of course, the Coach will not give up Matty – his ticket to an infinity pool and pro basketball – without a fight. Coach brings in his prostitute friend Connie to play Matty’s mom who is supposed to say a firm no to the prep school recruiter. But Connie somehow manages to get emotional over the future of her not-really-son Matty and decides Matty will transfer to the fancy boarding school, and thus upending the Coach’s plan.
Connie, initially a supporter of the mediocre Lenwood High graduates who have to hustle on the streets every day to earn money, shows a hint of depth as a caring human with a buried maternal side when she promises the scout that her “son” Matty will accept the offer to go to the prep school so that he has a brighter future. Too bad she’s not really his mother!
When the Coach further resists, the scout offers to include an assistant coach position in the deal for Ben. Ben, being the self-indulgent guy that he is, immediately flips sides and accepts the offer. He does not take into consideration the feelings of Matty, who has finally started to fit in and feel like he belongs and does not want to leave his team to go to a new school. The Coach just goes over Matty and talks to his actual mom to get him to accept the prep school’s offer.
Elsewhere, Shannon and Opal go out to celebrate Shannon’s single status but end up fighting about how to get over her past relationships. They make up, though, after Opal admits that she was making Shannon’s breakups all about her even though her healing process should be her own.
The season ends with Coach Ben announcing his exit from Lenwood High School in a thoroughly Coach Ben manner, and driving off to the fancy boarding school with Matty, but not before he gives the rest of his team junk from his car as “goodbye gifts”.
Shannon’s journey to slowly figuring out what she actually wants is just starting as the season ends, but we get a better sense of the heartwarming friendship she shares with Opal. The last scene drives home the fact that the Coach is just as big of a prick now as he was in the beginning. He only barely cares about the rest of the team and clearly not very much about Matty as well. His own selfish interests drive him and will always come first.
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