S1E2: My father still can’t believe that I list an FX series about a struggling, divorced, 40-something comedian as one of my favorite shows. Louie’s depressed, he explores issues that don’t really exist in my realm after my mere 20-something years on this earth. I could see how it’s strange that I enjoy it so much, but then when you add to the fact that this is Louis C.K. we’re talking about, not just some dumb schmuck, it starts to make a little more sense. Last night’s Louie was the perfect example of why my dad furrows his brow when I tell him he should give the show a shot and a perfect example of why I make sure to set aside time every Thursday night to watch it.
The show’s two halves explore oddly similar sides of the sexual spectrum: the woman who wants to go on a non-date with Louie simply because “he could be somebody someday” and it could somehow benefit her and the woman who needs sex a la carte – no really A LA CARTE, no frills or any sense of decent human interaction can be found here. Both sides are painted with callousness and are swathed with the idea that sex and dating are simply a means to an end, nothing else.
“You could get shot in the chest by a gun guy.” -Louie
“Bummer,” the first of Louie’s encounters – of course prefaced with a brilliantly self-loathing standup bit about how he grosses himself out when he has sex with someone – is with a young, beautiful actress who he met in some sort of “professional sense.” As she gets dressed with someone we can assume is her boyfriend or manfriend or random, attractive sexual partner, Louie makes the most awkward, bumbling, unsure phone call asking her out. For the completely practical, hard-hearted reason that it might, someday help her career, she agrees to go on a non-date with Louie. Of course, Louie is just hoping that on some off chance she’ll be kind enough to maybe, possibly have sex with him after their non-date. (Hey, folks. There’s a reason he uses carefully chosen standup bits to punctuate these little vignettes, alright?)
Of course, before he can get to his non-date, the unthinkable happens in a very understated, old New York, Louie way. Strolling on his way to meet his lady friend, a bum runs at Louie who ducks, allowing the old guy to careen into traffic where a garbage truck not only crushes him – it beheads him. And what happens next is one of the reasons this show is so brilliant. After this ridiculously dark encounter, Louie continues on to his date, contemplating the fragility of life the whole way. He could go home, but the wafer-thin chance his non-date could turn into an actual date is enough to keep him from cancelling and instead, he spews his dark, newfound understanding of life to the beautiful woman.
At first, she’s impressed, intrigued, and perhaps even enticed by his brutal honesty. After he gives a hilarious and extremely Louis C.K. style monologue about how we live like we’re invincible, but tomorrow we could be shot by “a gun guy” the unthinkable happens: the beautiful woman kisses him, relishing in his refreshing honesty. All it took was a bum’s severed head rolling down the street to get him there. Of course, as soon as she hears that he still came out for a date after witnessing that, she realizes all of his “honesty” is a bunch of pretentious bullshit and that in the end, he’s still a dude hoping to get laid. Rough day, dude.
“Do you want to have intercourse now?” –Dolores
Even further into this chasm of sexual callousness is Louie’s encounter in the second half of the episode, “Blueberries.” While dropping his daughter off at school, a fellow parent approaches him with a simple proposition: she hasn’t had sex in a long time, would he like to come around and help her out with that at some point. It’s a little unorthodox, not to mention incredibly saddening, but the promise of sex is just too powerful, so of course Louie stops by the sad woman’s apartment for some meaningless “intercourse.” Can we just pause for a moment on that word? Is there any word in the English language that makes sex sound like the worst experience ever? Getting your teeth cleaned by a diseased old pirate sounds preferable to participating in something called “intercourse. “ (You can’t tell, but I just shuddered.)
This already sad situation is shoved into the deepest darkest corners of sadness when Dolores takes a moment to change…into a house-frau frock and a sad, old woman bun. And as if it couldn’t get any worse (especially after she slaps on Suave lotion like she’s some sort of soon-to-be invalid), she then insists he pick up a strange list of very specific items from the deli downstairs: condoms with no lubricant, a bottle of lubricant, Vagiteen for her irritated vagina, oh and blueberries. I’ll now be getting all my antioxidants from every other fruit that offers even the slightest hint because the little blue fruits have lost all their preciousness after being part of the sad woman’s routine.
While all signs point to GTFO, Louie is still looking forward to getting laid, so he buys the sad, sad list of items. Of course, when they do finally get to the sexual part of the evening, Dolores’ sexual practices are even more wretched than all the behaviors that came before it. She insists on calling him “daddy” – Louie’s expression says it all here – and finally, she begs him to spank her and she promises in exchange, she’ll give him oral sex. Clearly, we knew this wasn’t going to end well, and as Louie spanks her while making a face that looks like he’s cleaning 3 month old vegetables out of the refrigerator, she finally has a mental breakdown and starts crying in the fetal position.
It’s this juxtaposition of horrible, sad realities and Louie’s stuck-in-the-middle, but-I-just-wanted-to-have-sex mortification that makes this show great. It’s the type of silent laughter that’s almost painful because your brain is struggling to process your own horrified response, but can’t help being completely tickled by Louis C.K.’s dark, deadpan humor. For some reason, this borderline excruciating dance of emotions is the exact reason I come back every week for more Louie, and this episode was the ultimate example of that.