Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

Checking In On… Louie

with one comment

Quick Reaction: FX’s Louie is one of the funniest and most original shows on television. If you’re not watching, you’re missing genius in progress.

(Read on for a more in-depth look).

Let’s get this out of the way early – Louis CK is the best standup comedian working today[1]. Whether or not you feel the same (or at the very least close to the same) way will likely determine how you feel about his FX comedy series [2], Louie, which is now entering its second season. It’s almost clichéd to say but Louie isn’t like any other show on television [3] and, by now, the story behind how the show works is fairly common knowledge. CK writes, directs, and edits every episode on a modest budget (lower than most typical television shows function on) and, in return, receives almost no interference from FX. Basically, he makes the show he wants to make, delivers it to FX, and they air it. The result is what happens when you let talented, creative people be talented and creative without being overburdened by notes from network executives who are neither. Simple as that – the show is CK’s voice and CK’s voice alone. Louie’s first season was masterfully constructed, able to range in tone from a bawdy, tear-inducingly funny guest appearance by Ricky Gervais as the world’s most unprofessional doctor to a profound and terrifying look at the toll that the Catholic church can take on a preteen boy’s psyche. From the looks of the second season’s first three episodes, it appears that the new season promises more of the same: an alternately optimistic and misanthropic feel that’s very unique on television today. The structure remains essentially intact: bits of CK’s standup[4] interspersed with vignettes that generally have no narrative thread from episode to episode, save the fact that Louie is a working comedian who’s also a recently divorced single father of two daughters. For someone so talented and at the top of his game, CK has next to no vanity about himself. The first three episodes have seen him almost have a nervous breakdown over his pregnant sister’s apparent health crisis (which turns out to be a fart)[5], blow a date with a reasonably attractive actress, debase himself for horrible sex with a not-so-reasonably attractive PTA mom, and embarrass himself by announcing his intention to buy a $17 million dollar house to his accountant only to be told he has exactly $7,000 in the bank. “I’m just saying, what could I afford right now? Like, what could I buy a house for right now?” CK asks the accountant. The answer: “Buy a house? Right now? Well… I mean right now you could buy a house that costs $7,000.” Luckily, the move to an earlier timeslot (it aired at a content-friendly 11PM in its first season but now follows the new Wilfred at 10:30PM) has not softened its language even an iota. During a discussion with his sister about his success as a single parent, she refers to CK’s ex-wife thusly: “I know, she’s your kids’ mom and you made her that and when you made that choice you had to live with it, but I didn’t. So I get to say that pasty, big-titted, black-eyed, guinea bitch can suck my dick.” The season opener is basically built around the aforementioned fart (a hilarious seven-second long fart at that) but surrounding that fart is a thorough pinpointing of every single parent’s fear – that their children prefer being with the other parent [6] – a discussion of the concept of “fairness” with his five-year-old daughter [7], as well as a commentary on how relationships between neighbors are essential despite the fact that many of us can’t even name one of our own. “Do not let your sister die from pain or lose her baby because you are awkward with strangers,” one of his neighbors advises after arriving to help. CK is also coming into his own as a director, as evidenced by some of the choices he makes in the premiere [8]. As with any series with the ambitions of Louie, it occasionally swings and misses but it’s always aiming for something. Even its failures are admirable and that’s a very rare thing in entertainment. Most aren’t willing to take that kind of risk, but CK always is. He’s never content to take the easy route and that’s why Louie is such a vital show. And really? I’m just so damned glad that it’s back.

Where To Watch: FX | Thursdays | 10:30 PM ET

RATING: 96/100

[1] If you’re not familiar with CK’s standup, you need to go here, here, and here. Warning: NSFW.

[2] And make no mistake, it’s a comedy series. This ain’t no sitcom, kids.

[3] And has one of TV’s best theme songs.

[4] Example: Discussing how in finding activities that he can do with his children, he’s always playing down to his youngest’s level and the three of them ultimately end up as “five-year-olds of different sizes.” He also talks about how grateful they should be for the parenting he’s able to pull off: “You should thank me every morning you’re alive. That’s how easy it would be to kill you.”

[5] Yes, the first episode is built around a fart joke and if you don’t think that fart humor is anything more than lowbrow, I urge you to click here and watch CK’s recent appearance on The Daily Show. Seriously, watch it.

[6] Albeit, this is done with typical Louie aplomb as his youngest daughter remarks that she “likes Mommy’s place better” before throwing in the caveat that Daddy’s place is nice, too, with Louie barely concealing his hurt feelings before flipping her off as her back is turned.

[7] The young actress playing CK’s youngest is particularly impressive during this exchange.

[8] For example how he structures the impending fear as his neighbors arrive to assist him with his sister’s fart health crisis masterfully captures the doom that he feels at that particular moment.

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Written by jeremylikestv

July 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Agreed, and well-written! Side note, stop watching lame “reality” TV, America, and get some laughs from some real comedy.

    Amanda

    July 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm


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