In the first season of Yellowjackets, by far the funniest moment emerged suddenly out of a moment of tension. As Shauna tearfully confesses to her husband Jeff that she has not in fact been going to a book club, but rather cheating on him with Adam, a man she recently met, Jeff (Warren Kole) responds incredulously and logically: “What?! There’s no book club?”
It’s a great example of the delicate tonal balances in Yellowjackets, and part of what makes the show so good; in the middle of an emotional scene, with both actors either crying or on the verge of tears, there’s a line (and line delivery) so perfect that it forces you to laugh out loud.
And Jeff is back at it again in season 2, only one episode in.
[Ed. note: Spoilers follow for the premiere of Yellowjackets season 2.]
A little more than halfway through the episode, Jeff and Shauna team up to destroy the many, many paintings and drawings Adam had of her in his art studio. They up having sex in the studio, and later, Jeff sits alone in his car in the garage, deep in thought about the experience. Suddenly, he turns the radio on full blast, and Papa Roach’s “Cut My Life Into Pieces” blares out into the car. He starts nodding his head, banging on the steering wheel to the beat, before exploding into the kind of solo drumming to Papa Roach you only do if no one is watching.
It can be hard to make an on-the-nose needle drop work, especially one as recognizable as that, but Kole sells it, going all out with his facial expressions (sticking his lips out in what could only be called “serious rocker duck face”) as he plays up the hilarity of seeing a grown-ass man rock out to Papa Roach in the year 2023. It’s the funniest moment of the episode, right alongside Misty angrily downvoting Elijah Wood’s
There are two other moments of Jeff hilarity in the season 2 premiere: Right after the Papa Roach scene, Jeff and Shauna burn some of Adam’s things. They neglect good fire safety, as the barbecue they’ve set up is directly under a tree, which, of course, catches fire instantly.
But later, at an awkward family dinner where Jeff and Shauna are still in their post-makeup-sex glow, Jeff starts the daddest of dad jokes: “What’d the bun say to the hot dog?” What did it say? We’d all love to know, because Jeff never found the punchline. Classic Jeff.
Jeff could have been a hard character to make likable, as a pseudo-idiot husband occasionally at odds with a main character. It’d be easy for Jeff to be like many other TV spouses: an afterthought, a punchline, or simply an obstacle to their significant other’s goals (and often, the show’s).
But Warren Kole’s golden retriever-like performance and the ways in which Jeff does support Shauna help elevate the character from a source of punchlines to a crucial part of a large ensemble. He is the Goofus to the ladies’ Gallant, the Scooby of this Mystery Gang. Praise to Jeff, our doofus warrior on Yellowjackets.