Louie, Season 1 (USA, 2010)

Louie_S1Created by: Louis C.K. I don’t know why it took me so long to check this out. I’m a huge fan of his standup—I’ve spent many hours with his many Youtube clips, and I’ve seen probably all of his specials. But for some reason, when I started hearing about this “regular 30 minute sitcom” from my friends, even though they all said that it was great, a total game-changer, a must-see, I was still skeptical. Chalk it up to my lifelong mistrust of television: an inherently evil, time wasting, thinly-veiled excuse to sell you commercials and get you hooked on a particular brand so that you’re helpless to the trance-inducing drug teat of televised content, putting everything in your life on hold until you can get the next fix, until it’s over and you’re hollow inside, hungover from a consumption binge where you haven’t really taken in anything other than TV memories and you’ve lost countless hours of your life. BUT I like doing all that stuff when I feel like it’s actually going to be a good show. And I like using TV as my lifeline to the culture, which I feel more estranged from each day. This show, then, turned out to be a pretty amazing show. I had even checked out the odd detached sketch in a Youtube clip before, and it didn’t seem that great. It didn’t seem “funny.” But the whole point is that each moment isn’t particularly laugh-out-loud “funny”, the way that a lot of his standup is. This show is a remarkable achievement for a lot of reasons—the singular nature of the production deal, distribution, etc—but the most striking thing to me is how completely different it is from the standup, and how fucking smart he is for making it that way. This first season is maybe an example of Louis working things out and finding his feet in this new project (not that he’s a stranger to TV), but for all the uneven footing, this show has moments of true genius. The episode with the bully is as close to pure genius as I’ve seen on television recently, and certainly in comedy.  It felt completely exhilaratig to follow Louis/”Louie” as he follows a nearly psychopathic, genuinely dangerous teenager on the subway, to the ferry, across to Staten Island, and finally to his home where Louie knocks on the front door. The whole time you’re wondering What the fuck is he going to do? What is he going to say? And he approaches the situation with his brand of complete honesty, complete down-to-earthness, that you know is completely contrived and unrealistic, but when Louis puts it up there for you to see, it feels so nice and so cathartic. In these moments, Louis is not trying to make us laugh, he’s trying to heal the wounds of modern society in a deeply personal, quasi-religious way that always skirts the line of being put-on and phony, but so far (from what I’ve seen) hasn’t yet crossed over into intolerable condescension. And at this point, even if he does cross that line, I’m willing to stick with him for a bit, because I admire how closely he’s going to the edge, how dangerous his mission is. It feels like he could risk alienating his whole audience at any point in the way, and then they won’t listen to him anymore, and his show will be over, but he risks it anyway. In short, I am a fan.

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3 responses to “Louie, Season 1 (USA, 2010)

  1. Pingback: Game of Thrones, Season 1 (USA, 2011) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: Master of None, Season 1 (USA, 2015) | Offhand Reviews·

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