Since its debut in 2009, Eastbound & Down has been an exquisite gift to television on its own terms, but it’s probably most effective as a piercing satire of the medium itself. The show stars Danny McBride as Kenny Powers, a former baseball superstar whose substance abuse and colossal self-destructive behavior have thrown a knuckle ball through his career. But instead of embracing the idea of a national pastime that’s a gauzy monument to a bygone era, Eastbound depicts a disgusting, debauched mess that’s full of juiced-up players, abusive fans, godforsaken locales, and rote spectacle.
The show’s title, and its protagonist Kenny Powers’ idiocy, is an obvious send-up of the sport itself, but its main characters—Powers’ bigoted, booze-and-drug-addled, and socially-stunted sidekick Stevie Janowski and his wife April—are also a biting send-up of male fantasy. Whereas prestige-magnets like Mad Men might offer revisionist takes on white masculinity’s encroaching decline, Eastbound is a gleeful send-up of it at its most absurd.
The show’s theme song, Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down,” is an anthem for those who are willing to take risks and push boundaries in order to achieve greatness. Although the song is over 40 years old, it still resonates with audiences today and remains a staple on country radio playlists across the nation. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the meaning behind the lyrics of the classic track to see what makes it such a timeless masterpiece.