Key & Peele
“Meegan and Andre Break Up/The End”
Season 5, Episodes 10 and 11
I’m not angry! I’m fine! I love it!
This is it. This is the end. This is what we’ve been waiting for for two seasons. Way back in season four, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele set out on a journey. Their sketch series began as a Chappelle Show archetype with the hosts doing bits that vaguely introduced the next sketch. It was great but after three seasons, things were samey and dull. The two ditched the whole crowd set up, as noted in my very first full season review, for a more enclosed, intimate road trip. We were given no indication of this change prior to the new season nor were we meant to like it at all. They must’ve faced some (probable online) backlash when they moved from the crowd to the car. But those parts of the show didn’t matter.
Key & Peele grew as an online show, for better or worse. I’m not one to admit to liking the whole breakout structure where large parts of shows like this one, Last Week Tonight, and the Tonight Show are put online for those who opt to not pay for access to full broadcasts but the operation has done wonders. Key & Peele’s cable numbers haven’t been too bad either as the show scored well in its demographic and time slot. But worth more than viewership and numbers, Key & Peele created conversations about race not only in America but around the world. We saw them globetrot to various countries and continents or play domestic foreigners trying to make a living in our great Nation. Their timing for releasing sketches has been both coincidental and saddening as, say, a sketch about an officer shooting an unarmed black man or gay rights being a big deal were aired at the moments we need them most. America can be seen as predictable, dangerous, cruel, and unfair as these issues are brought to light. These hits have garnered millions upon millions of views while also starting an important dialogue.
Now we’ve come full circle. America is more tolerant of others but many haven’t learned from our ignorant past. Perhaps the monk boy from last week was right “Change is coming.” But when will that change be here? Or how about Peele’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying it doesn’t matter if he gets ready “now or in 100 million years?” Time is relative and these past three years have been either worthless or meaningful in the beholder’s eyes.
With all that said, how were the last two episodes? In a rare double episode, Key & Peele went out the only way Key & Peele could. First up, the cold open for “Meegan and Andre Break Up” involved Peele trying to back out of a fight he started. He tries to act tough but confrontation with the other guy causes a false bravado sending Peele in a circle pattern conversation. But really we all came here to see Meegan and Andre break up. Andre tries his damnedest but Meegan’s “controlling” nature – Andre’s words; not mine – veers the conversation back into Andre’s direction. Her cool yet fiery intense nature during the whole thing is another show of Peele’s acting ability. These two were made for each other.
The next sketch has Key as a Charlie Rose-like Morty Jebson hosting his titular show. Peele is a rapper named Young Business promoting his album “C-Word.” These are probably the most grounded creative names in the show’s history as they seem to fit every aspect of the sketch. Peele tries to leave when Key asks about his girlfriend. Unable to get the microphone cable off of his jacket and later pants, Peele ends up knocked out on the floor. Likewise, Key plays another character with power over Peele’s person in the next sketch. Admittedly, Peele plays one of his more stranger characters. Let’s just say he enjoys life a bit too much.
The next sketch has Key being a devout lover of comedy. He is wearing a Hitler mustache (he calls it the Charlie Chaplin). He owns a German Shepard named Adolf (after one of the Marx Brothers). And he owns a giant Swastika flag (from The Producers). But it’s all culminated when he tries to recruit Peele to gather up the “comedy haters” of the town into one area. There are a bunch of jokes at play here and they’re pulled off really well. “Meegan and Andre Break Up” is a decent episode with a good amount of main material.
“The End” has some of the best lines I’ve heard in the past season of the show though. The cold open itself is filled with classic lines as Peele’s Ray Jay Parker Jr. tries to sell his compilation CD of songs he made for blockbuster movies. The only problem is he was never asked to do so and now these songs need a place to go. Ranging from hit movies like Jumanji and Armageddon to the likes of Pelican Brief and Disturbia, you too can own these “Never Used Hits.” Oh and they all sound like the Ghostbusters theme if that’s okay with you. It plays out like one of Conan’s “Basic Cable Name That Tune” sketches.
I’m not even doing it justice. And in the end, he gives off these abject looks of sadness that really show how depressed Parker has gotten as he makes these Ghostbusters theme song rip offs over and over.
The next sketch premise had a “these nuts” joke surrounded by an all too serious premise. Peele keeps saying “these nuts on your chin” after Key’s sentences in their office. He can’t even bring himself to quit saying it once he finds out his father is dying. However, his demeanor does come off as serious when he finds out the news. That sketch like the next one is serious in theme but silly in execution. Key finds a woman has collapsed but he also falls in love with her. Editing and directing play a big role here as Key calls 911 operator Peele (in drag naturally) for help. Key finds the woman beautiful so he’s unable to give her mouth to mouth; he wants their first kiss to be special. Circling shots and flashes of random numbers and math symbols make this reminiscent to, say, a syndicated police procedural. The roles are reversed once Key passes out and the woman wakes up finding him equally attractive.
The final sketch of the night, and series, is the late summer hit “Negrotown.” I made it my goal not to watch any Key & Peele sketch prior to the show’s season premiere. I didn’t want the joke to be ruined when I got to the episode in which the sketch was shown. They’ve been doing this practice for the past couple of seasons so it was hard to read about the viral sketches only to wait for them months later. When an officer pulls a gun on Key, homeless man Peele says he’ll take care of him from there, whisking Key off to Negrotown. It’s a place where blacks rule and no white people exist. It’s basically Tyler Perry’s Pleasantville. Peele’s passive aggressive singing homeless man is spectacular with his demeaning responses to Key’s questions about the city:
His responses are perfectly delivered and Key’s persistent queries are charming. This may be the perfect sketch for the series to end on. It’s kind of what they’ve been fighting for all along but it does go against their values for equality. It’s an entertaining dream sequence for what it’s worth. The last segment is a gag reel from across the series with Key, Peele, and guest actors cracking up. We see how far Key takes character or how easily Peele can break.
The final vignettes are great too with Peele telling Key to “act the character less” and the two discussing how influential the show is. The finale is a callback to the first sketch of the series. We finally know where these guys are going. Through and through, Key & Peele has been a consistently good show. Jokes or entire sketches may never land but these guys and their crew are talented. Directing, writing, and guest stars have all made Key & Peele possible. They’ve started the conversation but it’s nowhere near ended.
Should you watch “Meegan and Andre Break Up/The End?”
Three years. Five seasons, Hundreds of laughs. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have done wonders for the world of comedy. Their established voices came alive from their MadTv days. There, they were standouts among a shifting cast of greats (and admittedly some not so greats) but their message always rang through. From the get go, Key & Peele was more than a Chappelle-style series, it stood out among the pack as a show with purpose. After the two movies the guys are creating, Keegan and Jordan will no longer be comedy partners. Like their show, they’ve evolved their careers. They grew over time as comedians and friends. Now we’ll have to see where the limelight takes both of them. Watch these last two episodes no matter what.