Is ‘I Think You Should Leave’ the Best Representation of Anxiety on TV?

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Is ‘I Think You Should Leave’ the Best Representation of Anxiety on TV?

Remember a couple years ago when every animation studio simultaneously decided that every new movie would feature a cartoon character undergoing a realistic depiction of a panic attack? Well, DreamWorks should have saved their overworked artist’s time — Corncob TV did it first.

I Think You Should Leave is the surrealist sketch series from Saturday Night Live veteran Tim Robinson and his writing partner Zach Kanin that’s been carving out a new movement in the comedy community that dissects, builds upon and succeeds the cringe humor of the early millennium. Most sketches on the Netflix show start out in a grounded place, usually featuring Robinson’s character in a mundane social situation where he makes a minor faux pas. Then, the scene escalates to hyperbolic heights as Robinson’s fixation on fixing his awkward moment turns him into a primordial entity of embarrassment who can’t take his foot off the gas — quite literally, when he’s wearing his hot dog suit.

Since the sketches typically start with a familiar social setting, like in the breakroom of an office or at a baby shower, the scenes begin in a place that’s relatable — too relatable, even. One I Think You Should Leave fan struggling with anxiety went so far as to argue that, of all the explicit depictions of the common disorder that are so popular in modern media, not one comes close to accurately capturing the feeling of anxiety as well as Robinson’s presumably incidental portrayal. In a recent Reddit thread titled, “Tim Robinson's I Think You Should Leave Is the Best Depiction of Anxiety I Have Ever Seen,” user saalsa_shark pled their case.

“Anxiety makes you prepare yourself for potentially stressful situations by running through all the scenarios that could happen, including some very bizarre and very unlikely ones,” sallsa_shark argued. “Tim runs with these ideas and turns them up to 11. A lot of the sketches feel like the scenarios of someone with a lot of anxiety, then instead of de-escalating them, make it even worse.” The first-ever I Think You Should Leave sketch encapsulates this point perfectly. Everyone has experienced the temporary embarrassment of pulling on a push door, but only a mind in the midst of extreme panic would ever think to make their obstacle a pull door by force.

“The characters often attempt to resolve a slightly awkward situation by making it 10x more awkward, and the character is so quick to become defensive like they knew what would happen was a possibility,” saalsa_shark continued. The “Zipline” sketch from the same season supports this point. Robinson’s character immediately starts tossing out accusations at other contestants on the dating show as soon as he’s outed for his zipline obsession.

Most of the commenters were supportive of the theory, though to varying degrees. One such I Think You Should Leave fan replied to the analysis, “Pretty deep description for a show whichs (sic) first episode has a sketch in it, where a guy eats a receipt from a gift he gave to another guy, to make sure he doesn’t return it and then says he got sick, because the dude he was giving it to, didn’t wipe his butt properly and he accidentally ate his poop.”

Though, to be fair, that sketch could have just been about the anxiety of using too small a slice.

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