Louis C.K. made it a point to change the way we view comedy on television when he struck his deal with FX. He was on TV once before, in the form of Lucky Louie on HBO, except this time he was the man in charge. Louis C.K. writes, edits, directs, stars and chooses the music for his show Louie, grabbing the reigns from word “go” and never looking back. Tonight’s episodes will be his ninth and tenth of the currently still ongoing 4th season, and the first one serves as the finale of the six episode arc titled Elevator. Elevator has brought us new characters, such as Evanka and Louie’s current love interest, Amia. It’s brought us some new recurring characters, like Dr. Bigelow and Bobby, as well as the familiar cast of characters, comedians and family members alike, to guide Louie on his confusing journey. C.K. weaves multiple story lines into this season within a season: his daughter Jane’s troubles at school (who is becoming more and more like Louie; see her speech about drawing Christopher Columbus smiling), his never ending struggle with his ex-wife Janet, his new found affection for Amia, Pamela’s surprise reappearance, and a million little other things we never see buried under the surface. The heart of Elevator lies within the relationship between Amia and Louie. It’s interesting that C.K. chose this relationship to be almost entirely nonverbal: Amia does not speak English; I can’t help but think that helps Louie, who’s words have gotten him in trouble countless times in seasons past. Amia is returning back to Hungary soon, and after last week’s final scene, it looks like Louie will be anything but lucky, as Amia seems destined to fall in the long line of beau’s Louie never could court. After tonight’s Elevator, the final 5 episodes of season four weave together a three part episode titled Pamela with a two part episode titled In the Woods. With Amia leaving and Pamela clearly coming back into the picture, Louie is clearly coming towards a huge crossroads, which in the past has almost always resulted in some kind of disappointment for his character. Louie himself summed it up in perfectly in Elevator part 4, when he discussed Amia returning back to Hungary with his ex wife Janet:
“You know, Janet, people — sometimes you’re supposed to be sad. It’s okay. It’s the flip side, and it’s actually good,”
At this point, I should know better than to root for Louie, especially when the outcome is predictability bleak, but here I am, giving my favorite lovable loser one more shot. No matter the outcome, I know he won’t disappoint.
After almost a 20 month hiatus, Louis C.K. is back on my TV screen. That’s a good thing. ‘Louie’, the comedy, drama, whatever it is you want to call it, returned for season four last night. Like most popular shows, ‘Louie’ is dissected by just about every major website that reviews television shows and pop culture. Grantland. HitFix. Time. Variety. Entertainment Weekly. Name a website and they’ll probably have a ‘Louie’ review up the afternoon before and after the episode airs. There’s a reason for this: ‘Louie’ is breaking ground for a comedy series the same way ‘The Sopranos’ broke ground for a drama back in 1999. There is no other show like ‘Louie’ anywhere on TV. A large reason for that is because there is no other character on TV like Louie, and no other creative mind like C.K. helming a show. C.K. writes, directs, edits, acts and does the music for his show. There may not be an “I” in team, but there is certainly one in ‘Louie’. If your one of those people judging C.K. solely on his stand up act, and you’ve never seen his show, your safe in assuming he is first and foremost a comedian, and you wouldn’t be wrong. He makes people laugh, both on stage and now on the small screen. His stand up act is a big part of his series, as most episodes open with him on stage, laying bare his demented soul so a room full of people so can earn a chuckle. But the show is so much more. It’s awkward, weird, hysterical, gut wrenching, almost all at the same time. C.K. is a master at zeroing in on a societal issue, no matter how small, and showing how stupid it is. During ‘Back’, the first of back to back episodes to begin Season 4 last night, there is a scene with Louie and fellow comedian Todd Barry in a coffee shop. The two of them are drinking coffee, and Louie is explaining how he’s not particulary excited about picking up his kids from school. The back and forth between the two comedians would have been a funny enough scene, but C.K. doesn’t stop there. While the two comedians are conversing, everyone else in the coffee shop is transfixed on their phones. No interpersonal communication, no communication at all. During the conversation, a kid is so preoccupied with his phone that he keeps bumping into Louie in his seat while he’s trying to walk past him. No eye contact, no conversation: it’s as if everything outside of that phone exists in an entirely different universe. This scene in particular is funny, because like most parts of ‘Louie’, they are based on reality. It’s not out of the ordinary to go anywhere nowadays where 99% of the people you see are on their phones. When watching that scene, I couldn’t help but go back to the season 2 episode “Country Drive”. During a drive out to the country to visit a relative, Louie’s daughter complains that she’s bored. Louie’s response, like most aspects of the show, is perfect:
I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”
I can’t help but think that quote is a summation of the character of Louie and C.K. himself: a guy just making his way through the world, happy to be here but miserable at the humanity he see’s around him, so he relies on his imagination and comedy to keep him going. ‘Louie’ will only be here for six more weeks, as FX has decided to air two episodes every week for a total of episodes. Relish it while it’s here, because we may never see something like it again.