Louis C.K. – Comedian, writer, director, actor – has suddenly become one of the greatest artists working today. It’s not like this came out of nowhere – his stand-up material has been consistently brilliant, and he had a short lived sitcom on HBO (Lucky Louie) along with various other projects here and there. But recently, due to his continued success in stand-up (his special ‘Hilarious‘ was the first stand-up special accepted into Sundance) and his new, critically acclaimed TV show Louie he has suddenly found himself as one of the most successful and well-respected comedians of all time.
The second season of his show recently wrapped, and in wanting to talk about the show, I decided to forgo the usual article format we do here and instead have a sort of ‘discussion’ with another fan of the show and good friend of mine. We talked about what each episode meant, to us and in general, and gave each one a rating out of ten because I like to rate things with numbers. Here we go!
Episode 1: “Pregnant”
Alan: The second season opens with what is essentially the core of Louie. Putting his daughter to bed, Louie has to listen to her basically say she likes mom’s place better than dad’s. He listens to her talk about how much better mom is and with the innocence of a child doesn’t realize how it affects him. As she leaves, he gives her the finger.
Ife: She flat-out says that she loves her Mom more. Louie just carries on and the best part is that he doesn’t change his tone of voice or even his facial expression when he flips her off. It’s like he’s heard that more than once before. Even calling her baby. It seems to summarize their relationship. After all, in his stand-up he’s called her everything from a “bullshitter” to a “mistake” despite loving her. “I know how to look after you! You’re not dead yet!”
Alan: It’s the heart of their relationship. His stand-up has always been about how he loves his children despite knowing that his life would be better without them. It’s an honesty that I think few parents acknowledge or even understand. And it sets up the rest of the episode as well, especially the ‘mango pop’ exchange. The feeling of helplessness he feels throughout the episode, whether with trying to pass some true knowledge on to his kid, or to help his pregnant sister in pain, or to thank the neighbors, it all comes out.
Ife: You hit the nail on the head there. He seems to find solace in complaining about things because he’s essentially helpless. Look at the themes throughout the season they all have to do with control or fate in a way.. It’s always “what’s going to happen to Louie now?”, never “What will Louie do this week”. He’s a passive participant who seems to just find himself in situations he has very little power in.
Alan: Exactly. Even when he attempts to do something he is at the mercy of the situation around him. When his sister starts having pains in the middle of the night, and knowing what he knows (that she’s had a miscarriage before) he doesn’t know what to do until the neighbours knock on the door. And even then, they have to talk him down and convince him that the right thing to do, is to trust the strangers he just met and help his sister get to the hospital. Which leads to possibly the greatest fart joke I’ve seen in a long time. Was it a little crass? Sure.
Ife: It was just crass enough. I think CK loves to be isolated. He has a way of dealing with problems on his own. This is why anytime he actually has a meaningful conversation, even when it’s with someone who is mostly irrelevant, he learns all these new things about life. He loves to be isolated but when a situation happens when he must seek help he’s so useless. I liked this episode a lot because it show that with all the self-loathing he has, he has a sense of foolish pride. Indignation. He gets humbled here.
Alan: Definitely. And he acknowledges that in what was one of my favorite scenes of the entire season. The moment he says ‘I didn’t even know you were there.’ Is so true to life. We don’t know a thing about the people around us, until we need to. For all the self-loathing Louie’s onstage persona gives himself, calling him a shitty actor, he nails this scene.
Ife: This was a great way to start the season, particularly for anyone not familiar with his style or humor. I’d give the episode a well deserved 6 bouts of searing gas-pain out of 10
Alan: I’d give it a solid 7/10, mostly for the neighbors and the stuff with his kids.
Episode 2: “Bummer/Blueberries”
Ife: I have to say this episode rattled me quite a bit. You know that feeling when you realize that there are people, people around you, that are WAY more messed up than you. When I say messed up I don’t mean that you’re a close second I mean like you’re a beginner and they’re a professional at being just a casserole of problems and repressed…everythings. You know? Then there’s the post-realization emotion when you don’t know whether you should feel good that you’re clearly not bad, or bad that there people are doing worse.
Alan: It was a tough episode to watch, for sure. Both segments for different reasons. The ‘Bummer’ segment had so many things ring true about life, and dating, and the day-to-day bullshit we go through. And ‘Blueberries’ was a brief glimpse into this woman’s very, very depressing life.
Ife: She was so comfortable being in such bad shape, though. That’s what got me. Casual meal afterwards. The pre-coital errand running and discussion. She clearly saw nothing wrong with it.
Alan: It was almost like she was recreating a small piece of what her marriage looked like before the father left. She didn’t want ‘casual sex’ she wanted the whole relationship back in a way. Louie saw it initially as a dream come true, the elusive ‘no strings attached’ sexual relationship that devolved into a nightmare of a sad marriage.
Ife: Definitely. I thought that finally Louie hit the jackpot. Well, more of a scratch ticket thing where you win a free one. But I thought he caught a break. Nope. The two segments are a good juxtaposition. He prefaces the first date by saying that there is a segment of the female population that average people just don’t have access to. Then it’s ended with a segment of the female population that he realizes that he just doesn’t want. I’m sure every guy has had both of those revelations and neither of them are very nice experiences.
Alan: He even tries to get into it at the end of both segments. And in both things take a turn for the worse. He starts spanking this woman because she promises to suck him off, but it brings up some unknown trauma within her and she breaks down crying just as he is beginning to possibly enjoy himself. And in ‘Bummer’ he gets to kiss this elusive woman that even he knew nothing would happen with, but asked her out anyway. And then screws it all up and it ends the way many Louie segments end – with him chasing after someone else bumbling over his words trying to set things right.
Also, one of my favorite moments in season two is the brilliant delivery of the line “We don’t got no blueberries.”
Ife: Plenty of Vagi-tine though. Irritation isn’t a joke.
Alan: On that note I’ll give this episode 8 irritated vaginas out of 10.
Ife: 8/10 for me as well. It was deliciously disturbing.
Episode 3: “Moving”
Ife: What would you say is the theme of this episode? It shifted about 2 or 3 times the way I saw it.
Alan: I think, if anything, it’s about the feeling of being trapped. The main ‘plot’ of the episode involves Louie trying to find a new place to live, since his kids seem to like mom’s place better (an echo of the season opener). After searching around town, in vain, for a better place to live, he finally finds the perfect house, or ‘dream’ house. Louie knows he can’t afford it. But he talks to his accountant anyway, hoping against hope that something could help him get out of his rut (my favorite bit was when he just said ‘Obama’ to his accountant, which while hilarious is actually a pretty astute and subtle observation about what a lot of people thought his election meant for society). Louie is trapped in his situation, like so many of us are, financially and practically.
Ife: My favorite part was with the elderly tenant in the bait-and-switch house. Just the two or three seconds when Pam gives up and he sees this guy in this dive apartment (with the same haircut as him by the way) living out his fear of being alone and perpetually miserable. The whole scene was his fears reflected at him (including Pam leaving). He’s terrified.
Alan: I liked how Pamela’s reaction to the old guy was to cook him some eggs. It was actually really sweet.
Ife: The accountant scene was priceless. He was like a little kid asking his mom for money to buy candy. Just the way he broke it down for Louie so gingerly, “You have less than ten-times less than one mortgage payment on this house…right now you can buy a house worth seven-thousand dollars”. Portions like this show how polarized Louie is. Either he’s a degenerate or childlike. Earlier in the episode one of his buddies is going into graphic detail about performing what only a select few people in certain segments of society would deem a sex-act on Louie’s mother and he’s unfazed. Drinking coffee and reading the paper. Minutes later he’s almost— adorable?
Alan: I find that’s the case with his character often. He’s very endearing even when he’s doing pretty messed up things (his attempts at dating this season alone have perfect examples of this).Ultimately though, I like that the episode ends with Louie painting the house with his kids. It’s almost like he is saying ‘I may not be able to buy my dream house, but damnit, I’m going to do SOMEthing.’ Louie is getting a little more positive and optimistic as the series goes on, I feel, if only with him being less passive and taking more action – even a small one such as this. I give the episode 6 Obamas out of 10.
Ife: Haha! 5.5/10.
Episode 4: “Joan”
Alan: I have to admit, this episode really struck a chord with me. It was completely unexpected. The whole episode centers around a conversation with Joan Rivers, of all people, and much to my surprise it was one of the most concise and honest explanations of why some people choose to become entertainers (whether it’s stand-up comics, writers, filmmakers, musicians, etc).
Ife: Exactly. In the first act we see a series of situations saying that Love, be it between people or toward a profession, is painful. The crux of love is pain. However, as Ms. Rivers so elegantly summarized, we abide because we love it. It’s a part of you so you cannot dissociate from it. In spite of the irrational and sometimes masochistic amounts of pain it puts us through, we do it. Would you agree?
Alan: I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, when you look at the life of a stand-up, it’s not very glamorous. You wonder why it is these people choose this life of constant disappointment and degradation. And she puts it simply but truthfully – because we love it.
Ife: I think that my never finding Joan Rivers funny made me take her nugget of wisdom much more seriously. Its like a flower growing in a drainage ditch. You appreciate the beauty because it’s from something you don’t quite care for.
Alan: It’s one of those interesting things, that when it comes from an unexpected source it suddenly becomes more powerful.
Ife: When she said, “It doesn’t get better. YOU get better” it really hit home with me more than I would like to admit. There’s no better way to put it.
Alan: And then the final scene is Louie talking to the casino manager (taking Joan’s advice), and what worked really well was keeping it silent. Because it’s not what he’s saying to him that matters. It’s the fact that he IS talking to him. He’s getting his shitty casino spot back because he knows he needs to get better before his life does.
Ife: You’re an astute man, sir. I didn’t quite appreciate that the first time. I was more concerned that there was no funny stand-up outro. While I was feeling cheated I should have been paying attention.
Alan: Also is it just me or did Joan Rivers become like, 30% hotter after viewing this episode?
Alan: Moving on.
Ife: 30% is a very exact number, too.
Alan: MOVING ON. My infatuation with Joan Rivers is nobody’s business but my own.
Ife: And now the Internet’s.
Alan: I’d rate Joan a solid 9/10. The episode too.
Ife: 7/10. A confused 7/10, Alan.
Episode 5: “Country Drive”
Alan: First off I want to address the sing-along portion of this episode – I found it hilarious, of course, but also pretty truthful and a rare thing to see a guy just being weird and silly – something we are all guilty of but rarely let shine through unless we are with our most trusted loved ones (as an aside, the new Patton Oswalt special has a bit about what he does when alone in the car, and I immediately thought of this scene. It’s something I am incredibly guilty of but was never sure if I was alone – Patton and Louie have brought this self-imposed silliness to the forefront).
Ife: We all do it. It’s sort of like using the washroom — hear me out. We can laugh at it, and we can laugh at others but when it’s us that gets put under the lens we tend to get very uncomfortable. I would be mortified if someone was to hear me while driving.
Alan: Of course. I think the part that Louie gets right here – and maybe it wasn’t intentional but it’s what I took from it – is that he’s only really like this when he’s with his kids. They bring the goofball out of him, and he seems to become a more happy person – if only for a moment. He is able to lose himself in this song – and all that matters in his world at that time is having fun, and making his kids laugh. He’s happiest when with his kids (as the whole series has pointed out numerous times) and the most miserable when trying to get laid.
Ife: I found it shocking he cursed in front of his kids. Louie is a pretty good father despite being a degenerate misanthrope. But I loved the whole car scene, it really helped in taking me away from his stupid kids.
Alan: I was never shocked at his behavior in front of his kids – especially the language. He’s unique in that he doesn’t filter himself as much as most parents do – he straight up tells them when they’re being assholes or greedy. While I understand that this is a slippery slope in terms of parenting – I find it refreshing and an interesting take on being honest with children.
Ife: If I have kids I’m going to take a page from him. “You don’t get to be bored”. He’s right. The children redeem themselves is a subtle way at the end of the show but they deserved to be put in their place. The little one is a waste of existence.
Alan: What I really like about this episode is the shift in what I will call moral authority. It goes from the kids, to Louie, to the Aunt, and back to the kids. It was remarkable.
Ife: They get to Louie’s Aunt’s and I was quickly curious about this new character. I mean, Louie talked her up for a significant portion of the introduction. I expected the show to proceed as usual with her showing the kids how spoiled they are. I was wrong. What was your initial reaction to the Aunt?
Alan: For me, I almost immediately felt she was going to be offensive in some way. I’m not sure why, but I’ve seen enough of Louie’s comedy to know how he feels about old people, and words, and while of course I couldn’t see what was going to happen right away, I wasn’t surprised when she gave the kids some ‘nigger toes’ and where Louie’s writing would go from there. The innocent kids hearing such a word from a seemingly kindly old woman meant Louie had to do some serious damage control. If anything, I was disappointed it didn’t go further – opting instead to kill off the old woman before she could get REALLY offensive and Louie to flounder trying to mediate between her and the kids.
Ife: You have a great point. Firstly, kudos. I didn’t see it coming at all. I think I was impressed by his children being more morally upright than really considering how far they could have pushed it. Not to mention I was shocked at the death. I think between the pity I felt for the old lady initially, the way it progressed and the death I was too distracted to think how crazy it could have been. I can imagine a flustered Louie having to deal with her longer and it does seem like it would be great TV.
Alan: I thought it was a weaker episode, to be honest. Still awesome though. 6/10.
Ife: I’ll give you that. It’s season 2’s answer to the “God” episode of season 1. 6 BRAZIL NUTS out of 10.
Episode 6: “Subway/Pamela”
Alan: ‘Subway’ first – it’s a testament to the creative control Louie is allowed that lets us have something like this on TV. Where else can you see a surreal vision of New York City’s Subway in a silent movie format?
Ife: I’ve never seen a show with so many blow-job jokes be so arty. You know? It’s a beautiful opening. The portion involving what I hope was Coca-cola on that subway seat got to me. I got a little emotional. Credit it to the optimism I keep in the cigar box under the floorboards of my memory but it was very charming. The reality though let’s us know that it’s still a Louie C.K. show and reminds us, “Why the fuck would anything ‘nice’ ever happen?”
Alan: Yeah that thing was nasty. And only Louie would think of filming a scene of a bum washing himself while beautiful classical music is played as the soundtrack. It’s almost as if it’s this private show just for Louie as he watches this strange ritual take place, and placing himself in the scene puts us in his shoes for a moment – almost as if he is saying ‘Look at the world – it’s constantly filled with some of the weirdest shit you’ve ever seen – but also the most beautiful.’
Ife: He watched that man clean himself for quite a while. In fact not having that half naked man included would still be far too long for my taste.
Alan: The second half of this episode – featuring the infamous Pamela – did a number on me.
Ife: Louie’s speech was so sweet I went into insulin shock.
Alan: I can’t stress enough how much I love Louie’s honest portrayal of himself in his stand-up and especially this show. Like, honest to the point where it seems artificial. And I’ve heard criticisms of the show saying exactly that, but what I love about his writing and his views on the world is how he seems to squeeze his own heart as far as it can go – to the point where we get this specific, heartfelt, and ultimately very sappy declaration of love – and somehow the entire world relates to him. Whether they admit it or not.
Ife: It didn’t seem fake in the slightest. It wasn’t cliche or excessive, it seemed real. From his demeanor to her reaction it seemed real authentic. If that was someone else portraying Louie it would have sucked. I’m sure Louie felt every word of that. If he didn’t I certainly did.
Alan: Agreed. And on the flip side – Pamela’s reaction simultaneously destroyed me as it brought back every time I’ve seen a woman make the face she made, and endeared me to her as I have also been on her side of the equation (even though those moments don’t resonate with my memory as clearly as the other ones). When you have someone declare they’re feelings for you and you don’t feel it back – you can’t help but be really thankful and sorry at the same time. And she brought that across brilliantly here.
Ife: I don’t think I thought of this enough from Pamela’s perspective. Upon watching it again I realize how hard that probably was for her too. Most likely because I’ve been Louie’s side of the fence the majority of times. How did you feel about the ending?
Alan: Oh man. The ending was so bizarre. I was right there with Louie the whole time – from his depression due to her reaction to his speech – to not even realizing what she was proposing with the ‘bath’ and then the rage at the realization he missed his one shot to be with her romantically. I wanted to shout along with him.
Ife: Strongly agree. I was so frustrated for him. After all, he only gets offers like that two or three times a season. Really though, the aggravating part is that this time there was some actual feelings behind it. Better luck next time, stupid.
Alan: 8 Painful screams of agony out of 10.
Ife: 9 out of 10.
Episode 7: “Oh Louie/Tickets”
Alan: Okay, so this is one of the most talked about episodes on the show, namely due to the second half which featured Dane Cook and a response to their ‘feud’ which I put in quotes because much of their rivalry was not as great as the internet made it out to be. Nonetheless the show dealt with it expertly, letting we the audience see both sides of the story and not really agreeing with either one. In fact, this episode coupled with Cook’s appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast humanized the guy and took his over-the-top stage persona less to the forefront of my opinion of him. Granted, I still don’t find his act very good, but I have less hatred directed at him than I may have before.
Ife: I agree. Him being on the show made him much less obnoxious in my mind (not to mention less self effacing and self-righteous). I’ve always seen him (Cook) as more of a comic that caters to the lowest common denominator, whereas Louie is the veteran who’s art has transcended the surly bonds of dick-jokes and shock-laughs to teaching his listeners about life. I still don’t know how much of their conversation was authentic or them acting but seeing them in the same show was enough to make this special. Dane Cook is no longer absolutely terrible because of his participation.
Alan: I read an article where Louie described what it was like getting Dane to agree to be on the show. He wrote the script himself, and when he sent it to Dane he wanted to make some changes, but Louie refused. Eventually, I think there were a couple small compromises or suggestions he took from Dane but overall what we saw was what Louie initially wrote. Which is pretty cool considering he accurately displayed what Dane wanted to say.
Ife: That’s why they call you “Thorough-research” Johnson.
Alan: Nobody calls me that.
Ife: They do now!
Alan: I loved this episode a lot, but actually the Dane Cook segment less so than the first segment, ‘Oh Louie.’
Ife: The “Lucky Louie” opening made this episode even more of a critical eye on his life. I never liked his prior sitcom, honestly. It bored the shit out of me. The only thing that kept me watching as long (or short) as I did was my appreciation for Louie. Louie tells the director, “It’s going to suck just like every show on television” – he was right in my opinion. Someone could read our rundown of episodes riddled with racism, or death, or crippling social graces and agree with the director saying, “That’s not funny”. But as Louie retorts, “Yes, it is”. It’s not like any sitcom on TV and the value lies therein.
Alan: I too gave Lucky Louie a shot and was very disappointed. Granted this was before I was too familiar with his work, and watching clips now I appreciate his attempt to try to work his stand-up into a traditional sitcom format. But ultimately, it was a failure not because he didn’t have the right critical eye for it, but because the traditional sitcom format is…kind of awful.
Ife: Yup. You put a DaVinci in a shitty frame and it’s not going to be as pretty. Louie’s genius looked dull and simplistic in the standard format. There was no emotion in that show, it was a 22min lithium pill. Thankfully the FX show got me off my meds.
Alan: The interesting thing is I saw a cold open for a new sitcom I won’t name, that had literally the EXACT scene he makes light of in this segment. As in, the husband does something shitty, she complains about it, then he makes a joke about it. It ends with her giving him that ‘I love you, despite your flaws and assholery!’ look and I never want to see the show in question again.
Ife: God, It’s not brain surgery. Fire is hot, the sky is blue and that format is about as engaging as food poisoning. Was it a little funny seeing that preview though? Like, did “really are they actually doing this?” cross your mind thinking that no self-respecting producer would get behind this?
Alan: I often get a good laugh out of awful entertainment and like to talk about it in an ironic way. But the creative aspect of my mind just can’t stand this kind of shit getting made while brilliant comedies like Arrested Development, Louie, Community, Parks and Rec, get little viewership while shittier sitcoms show gets millions. So I laugh at them to suppress the depression I get from watching.
Ife: Who are we to say the format doesn’t work, though? People have seemed to like it for decades.
Alan: Well, and there’s the rub. The format works – works in a ratings and viewership and therefore money making sense. But so do Michael Bay movies, and Nickelback albums. The general public loves things that are ‘easy.’ It’s easier to relax and watch a traditional sitcom where the laugh track tells you when to laugh and listen to the radio and go to the movie theatre to see the most publicized blockbuster. It takes work and effort to find the real gems of any entertainment format. But you’re rewarded if you do.
Ife: Yeah, make Hollywood work for its laughs or you’re going to keep getting Charlie Sheen cracking-wise with husky children for generations more, people.
Alan: I’ll give this episode an 8. 8 very over-enunciated syllables out of 10.
Ife: I’ll give it a 7. I liked something with Dane Cook in it and I’m not ashamed.
Episode 8: “Come On, God”
Ife: Firstly, there’s no way Louie would get away with this episode 6+ years ago.
Alan: No doubt. I mean, think of the infamous ‘The Contest’ episode of Seinfeld where they had to dance around the words ‘masturbation.’ To be fair, that was network television rather than cable. But the point stands. I absolutely loved the opening bit of this episode with the ‘debate’ on a fox news channel. Louie defending masturbation was brilliant. His whole argument was basically, ‘I like it, let me do it.’
Ife: “…Joan Jett”
Alan: Joan Jett?
Ife: “Everyone in history has masturbated: Napoleon masturbated, Gandhi, Joan Jett, Shakespeare…” – “Shakespeare definitely”. Joan Jett won the debate single handed (no pun intended).
Alan: Right! I forgot about that bit. Brilliant. But I think what I really liked about this episode was that they never painted the conservative christian woman as a fool or an idiot. Just really passionate about what she believes in. Of course, I think Louie attempting to ‘date’ her was misguided, as I’m sure he knew as well, but it was actually kind of sweet seeing these two very different people just be civil with each other.
Ife: I was wondering how you’d view that character. In my mind I thought you would loathe her.
Alan: Ha! Don’t get me wrong, it started out that way, when it was her vs. Louie on the Fox show. And that’s why I appreciated the insight into her character, knowing she isn’t a) a hypocrite or b) a loony, but rather someone with a different view of the world (especially regarding sex, marriage and the like) who was underneath it all a good person. Granted I still disagree with her vehemently, as did Louie, but at least she wasn’t a crackpot with an agenda.
Ife: The two honestly liked each other as human beings despite being ideologically very different human beings and it warmed my heart for lack of a better word. It wasn’t just another instance of me shouting, “Let the attractive young woman talk, CK!” at the television. It was just two nice and interesting people being divided by something trivial. Both had great points for doing what they do.
Alan: But in the end he still went home and jerked off thinking about her. These biological urges aren’t going to satisfy themselves, ladies.
Ife: Elevators are now a shameful, shameful place, though.
Alan: I loved that his fantasy wasn’t ‘sexy’ per se. It was just a woman literally asking him to put a bunch of dicks in her butt. It’s the kind of comedy only Louie can pull off this well.
Ife: But it was so silly, Alan. Like silly to the point that it was confusing.
Alan: Yeah it was silly, but I saw it as the creative side of Louie was bleeding into the honest side of him. He wasn’t about to put what he ACTUALLY fantasizes about on TV because it’s less entertaining to the viewer. It took an aspect of what he likely fantasizes about and turned it up to a silly level to make it more accessible.
Ife: The opposite side of the coin was The lady’s description of her fantasy. Which, I gotta say was…”arousing” in its own way. Louie’s face was testament to that.
Alan: It was definitely romantic and idealized, which I am guilty of fantasizing about as well. Maybe I’ve become more cynical lately but I just saw it as unrealistic and couldn’t put myself in those shoes. I liked hearing it but never did I think ‘yes, that is something I would want.’ Maybe I just really wanted to have sex with her.
Ife: Point taken. How would you rate this episode compared to the others in the season?
Alan: 6 Orgasms out of 10.
Ife: I think it was one of the more thoughtful episodes, not big on laughs but rife with perspective. 7 pity handjobs out of 10. Keep saving it for Jesus, you graceful gazelle.
Episode 9: “Eddie”
Alan: Hoo boy. It’s been months since I watched this episode for the first time and I’m still not sure how ready I am to talk about it.
Ife: I was going to say the exact same thing. I never watched it again after the first viewing.
Alan: First off, Doug Stanhope did a commendable job with this role, something I definitely didn’t expect.
Ife: Are you familiar with Doug’s Sinbad-esque family-friendly comedy stylings?
Alan: Ha, I have seen some of his stand-up. I became MORE familiar with him after this episode which garnered even more respect from me for his work on Louie. In fact I think Louie picked exactly the right kind of guest-comedian for this role, as a high-profile comedian would have ruined the effect he was going for. I couldn’t see, say, a Chris Rock or a Jerry Seinfeld in this role (acting challenges that may have risen notwithstanding).
Ife: Doug Stanhope is remarkably and openly self-destructive. He is one of the comedians (unlike Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld) who’s art imitates life almost exactly. He doesn’t hold back one bit. He is incredibly blunt, crass, and really nihilistic but funny. Whomever cast him made the right choice.
Alan: Well as you know I have researched a lot of things about Louie himself and couldn’t help but see some definite parallels to the relationship he has with Eddie and with his real-life friend Marc Maron. He talked about it in length on Marc’s WTF podcast (which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the stand-up comedy business). Basically they were good friends and started out as comedians together, and suddenly Louie’s career just took off. The people around him who didn’t get as successful couldn’t help but resent him somewhat for his success. This is not exclusive to stand-up either. I’ve heard many stories of that success resentment destroying friendships. Heck, I’m probably (definitely) guilty of it as well. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the human condition.
Seeing this retold in the episode was amazing. And it all led up to a final scene that I couldn’t believe I was watching play out on television.
Ife: It was really moving. I saw myself in both characters to a degree.
Alan: I did as well, and it was incredible how it shifted (for me). I saw myself as Eddie, wondering why he should keep living. And then, suddenly, I saw myself as Louie, telling him off. We’re all searching for a purpose in life and nobody gets it just spelled out for them one day because you want to give up.
Ife: It also relates back to that persistent theme of helplessness. It’s very difficult to see someone you care about destroy themselves. They didn’t go down the beaten track with a motivational speech with Coldplay in the background. It was a cold, hard reality that precipitated. All we as the viewers could do was watch.
Alan: Which was difficult. And then to top it all off, didn’t even get a ‘proper’ resolution. I feel that’s Louie’s general approach to his writing as well. No clear ‘beginning, middle and end.’ It’s usually just ‘premise, then things that happen because of that premise.’ It’s always reflections on life which doesn’t really have a resolution. It’s just constant clashing together over and over for all of eternity. May seem bleak or shortsighted but I think it’s fascinating and helps me appreciate the beauty of it all the more.
Ife: How many things in life actually have a proper resolution? Very, very few. Had it ended with the story wrapped up in a nice little package the gravity of the situation may have been lost. 9.5 out of 10.
Alan: With a heavy heart I’ll give this episode a 9 out of 10.
Episode 10: “Halloween/Ellie”
Alan: And the winner for worst episode of the season goes to…
Ife: They did have Amir (From Jake and Amir fame) and his daughter did dress up as Frederick Douglass. So that’s 2 out of 10. But it doesn’t get much better.
Alan: I think the ‘punch-up’ scene was the only thing I really liked in this episode. There was some interesting potential to the Halloween segment but overall it felt like a lazy scene. Scary guys come after Louie and his kids and little girl is innocently brave, they back off. Louie is better than that.
Ife: It seemed to be where two weak vignettes meet without a theme. If it wasn’t for Amir saying, “I’m too old for this shit” there would have been no laughs. Not one.
Alan: I did like Louie’s attempt to pitch a movie idea (which I heard is based on a true story, and that makes it even funnier) but overall the story was weak for sure. I guess it’s natural to expect more from this show, but considering we just spent the last 9 episodes sucking Louie’s dick, it was about time we took him down a peg. Get your act together, Louie! (He will in the next episode).
Ife: How ratest thou this episode? Daughter’s costume: +1, Amir: +1, roommate story at the end: +1. In total, 3 wackedy-shmackedy punch-ups out of 10.
Alan: I’d give it 4 Pootie-Tangs out of 10. The shittest Louie episode is still better than the best episode of ‘Two Broke Girls.’
Episode 11: “Duckling”
Alan: This episode could be a film. It’s beautiful.
Ife: If I was to show an episode to someone who has not been exposed to the show and may be shocked by the more risque material it would be this one.
Alan: Definitely. It’s a lot of autobiographical stuff (as most of the show is), based on his real-life USO tour he did. The girls playing the cheerleaders are the actual girls he went to Afghanistan with. I believe the country/music star was the same guy as well.
Ife: Sir, your research is impeccable. I had no idea.
Alan: It’s also the first time he credited someone for writing other than himself, as his daughter came up with the premise.
Ife: He did give his terrible daughter credit, yes. Technically, the pacing was great. There was a distinct beginning, middle and end, and it was funny. Most of the Louie episodes are good episodes but this was a complete episode.
Alan: I think I liked it mostly because it gave such a distinct ‘fly-on-the-wall’ feeling to it. And getting to see his journey to this other-world as it were, was just amazing. It had a very documentary feel, which I think was the only way to do an episode like this. There was no political agenda.
Ife: Well put, when they had the military be a major part of the premise I was sure it was going to be one of THOSE episodes. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. They had too good of a story to just throw it away with a simplistic hamfisted commentary on war.
Alan: The fact that it was an hour-long gave him the freedom to really linger on the beautiful shots and score it appropriately. I could have watched it for days. I mean, unlike most of the other episodes in the show, where it either makes me evaluate my life or laugh for hours, this episode just made me feel…good. I just genuinely enjoyed watching it. There’s not much I can say about the episode aside from that. 10 People-Who-Don’t-Know-Who-Led-Zeppelin-Are out of 10.
Ife: There isn’t anything bad I can say about this episode at all. There were a few spots where they could have pushed some jokes in but they did a superior job, took risks with the run-time and really had an uplifting result. 9 out of 11.
Alan: Never forget.
Episode 12: “Niece”
Ife: This is the fallout from the opening of the Joan River’s episode. Not the HILARIOUS bananas mix-up, but Louie’s volatile sister coming into the mix. They kind of put me off of this episode in the first few minutes by his sister’s leaving and Louie’s teenage niece being the main character he interacts with. I braced myself for a generation gap style back and forth. Thoughts?
Alan: Yeah I was definitely expecting some ‘kids these days!’ type jokes from Louie’s end, but it turned out to be a pretty interesting episode, mainly due to the niece’s interactions with the other ‘crowd work’ comic.
Ife: That part was memorable. But the actress, who is Pamela Adlon’s daughter by the way (I can research too), just ended up being distracting. Just standing alone in the room by herself, wandering off, it was kind of a chore to watch.
Alan: Hmm that’s interesting, I never minded the actress, myself. I thought she was pretty unremarkable, but not bad by any means. I guess I was always just invested in what Louie’s reactions to her were, that I never really thought too hard on the Niece character. I definitely loved when Louie tried to impress her by doing crowd work and just failing at it terribly.
Ife: I would hate for my dislike of the niece to take away from the episode. Louie was hilarious, especially when he was flustered on stage. I liked their interaction with the homeless guy. Louie’s hard words at least showed a glimmer into how he really feels about this wonderful, pre-teen blessing that was bestowed on him. That being said, I have a feeling that they will bring her back in season 3 and use her more fully. Like they can’t just write her out of the series’ narrative, right?
Alan: Well, to be fair, the series hasn’t really had any semblance of narrative aside from his relationship with Pamela. His siblings change, his mother changed, it’s tough to say for sure. Although it does slowly seem to be creating a more solid canon, although who knows what will happen in Season 3.
Ife: The mother did change, didn’t it? There goes my last shred of credibility.
Alan: It’s just one of the many aspects of the show that I find interesting. The situations change depending on what, creatively, Louie wants to explore. He wanted to explore the notion of a terrible mother character early on in essence to explore the idea of family and how we think we’re required to love them even if they’re assholes. But then he wanted to show a more autobiographical relationship with his mom in the ‘God’ episode so he brought back the actress who played his date in the Bully episode and we get this unintentional Oedipal subtext to the whole thing. I find it very interesting.
Ife: I didn’t even make the connections it seems you’ve explored thoroughly. When you put it that way, the episode goes from being a filler episode to one that could be watched several times. Somewhere in this process you’ve sold me on it.
Alan: I am good at that sometimes.
Ife: So, Alan, how would you rate this episode with all your precious insight? I’d give it 5 out of 10 (plus another watch).
Alan: I think I liked the Louie interactions and Godfrey enough to rate it 7 indie rock clubs out of 10.
Episode 13: “New Jersey/Airport”
Alan: Finale time! Lots of great stuff in this episode, with perhaps one of the most bittersweet endings the show has done. But first! Louie tries to have random sex and winds up in New Jersey!
Ife: I loved this episode. I loved it. It had everything. I’m not usually a fan of finales because they usually fall flat for me. This one didn’t. Like you said, the episode starts off with Louie finishing his set and sticking around to “Get some tail”. It was how uncomfortable Louie was throughout it all that made me laugh far more than I should have at a character I’ve grown so fond of. It was painfully good. He kind of hits a bottom and then right on cue a nice lady in a fancy car wishes to show him her lady parts because she liked his comedy stylings.
Alan: I love the way he sets up these weird ‘fantasies’ for his character only to take it in an absurd direction and ultimately failing. I mean, how often would a woman actually do the things she did in that situation, and who would have thought it would end with F. Murray Abraham yelling at you?
Ife: I think the running joke is that if anyone is willing to have sex with Louie they are crazy or at least emotionally damaged. It’s all too good to be true. I was rooting for him but I was getting suspicious when nothing went hideously wrong. Then, of course, we find out what it was all about.
Alan: I have to say, Chris Rock’s cameo/role in this episode was pretty surprising, both in the sense that I didn’t ever read pre-casting news or anything so I was genuinely surprised to see him appear, but also because Rock played a very real and subtle version of himself that we rarely get to see.
Ife: Chris was my favorite part. I’ve seen him converse with Louie in real life and give interviews (not as a persona or inflated character) and I’m still surprised at how soft-spoken and level-headed he is. Louie has even said that Chris is the one who has his act together and Louie himself is the irresponsible, foul-mouthed one in real-life.
Alan: I can definitely see that. It’s really one of the things I love the most about this show, is it has done such a great job at pulling back the veil of show business, to a certain degree anyway. As with the Dane Cook episode before it, we get to see a celebrity in a light we rarely get to see them and it’s incredibly refreshing.
Ife: Couldn’t agree with you more. This one and the Dane cook one really were kind of an inside look. “Next time find a vagina in New York — that LIVES in New York”. Their back and forth was so organic Wouldn’t be surprised if it was based on fact.
Alan: Yeah you can really tell they are friends in real life, it gives it this fly on the wall aspect to it. F. Murray Abraham yelling ‘That’s a lot of none of your BUSINESS!’ was one of my favorite things in this episode.
Ife: “You don’t like my wife? You’re too good FOR HER!?” Between that and the voice of Chris’ wife, I loved this vignette. It was a great primer for the final scene. It got all the laughs out.
Alan: Undoubtedly. The final sequence of Louie’s second season did exactly what it needed to do. And that’s simultaneously make me laugh my ass off and feel awful about his continuing pursuit of the elusive Pamela. I mean, most of this vignette is just him continuing to try to be with her while she rejects him, but that final scene of him watching her walk away was just killing me. In both a funny and depressing way.
Ife: We’ve all had people we’ve pursued in vain, (Joan Rivers, or otherwise), but it demonstrates how anyone can create a bubble of delusion even when it’s hopeless. It’s simple to act like “the most fucked up [people]” as Pamela put it.
Alan: Truth. His hangdog expression watching her go through the aisles and checking in and all that was the perfect face of a completely delusional and helpless guy madly in love with an unattainable woman. We’ve all had that face before.
Ife: He wanted so bad for her to give him just a glimmer of hope. He ended up taking what he could get and running with it.
Alan: The real tragedy here is that he likely will ‘wait for her’ and his life will become all the more miserable because of it. Although, it’s also entirely possible and likely he’ll find someone new to obsess over a few months after she’s gone and he realizes she’s not coming back. That’s the nature of obsession.
Ife: I’m pretty sure some other crazy woman will catapult her genitals his way next season. Still, Pamela is number 1. Only Pamela could make him forget how to use a door in the final shot of the season.
Alan: It’s going to be a long time before season 3 starts, but I’ll gladly wait for him. See what I did there?
Ife: On that note, how ratest thou this conclusion to the sophmore season of televisions most creative show?
Alan: This final episode I’d rate 8 misguided romantic gestures out of 10.
Ife: 8.5 out of 10 – it had a taste of everything I love about this excellent program!
Alan: Thanks for doing this with me sir!
Ife: No, Thank you!