Loving Louie

It’s rare for a television show to completely ignore sitcom “how-to” manuals and create its own formula instead. The last time a show did this was in 1989 with Seinfeld, nearly 25 years ago. Now, I’m pretty sure that we can expect Louie to be the next breakout show to do the same.

Louis C.K stars in Louie as a fictionalized version of himself, raising two daughters in New York City as a single, divorced father. C.K. is credited as the show’s creator, sole writer, director and occasional editor. Essentially, this show is his and his only.

Today, Louis C.K. is the biggest comedian in the world (at least to me). Just look at his Emmy nominations and six hilarious stand-up specials and films (e.g. Blue Jasmine, American Hustle).

The traits that make Louie great don’t seem to work on other shows. For one, the lack of coherence is absurd. Louie’s ex-wife is African American yet, their girls are pale-skinned blondes. F. Murray Abraham portrayed a swinger, Louie’s father and uncle. His mother has been played by two different actresses with each representation disparate from the other. Normally, this is a recipe for disaster and confusion. However, Louie not only pulls it off but also manages to turn it into part of the show’s charm.

Usually, surrealism is done horribly in shows; it comes off as cheesy and downright silly (I’m looking at you, How I Met Your Mother). Louie, ironically, takes surrealism and makes it into something realistic. I truly believed that those intruding garbage men were smashing up the inside of Louie’s home. You know why? Because it’s relatable.

Louie isn’t a comedy nor a drama, but rather, a transcendent fusion of both.

With every season, Louie evolves. Initially, episodes were separate, unrelated stories told through vignettes. C.K.’s hilarious stand-up is occasionally used to either connect the plot or simply make the audience bust a gut. With time, using vignettes was abandoned and the entire span of an episode consisted of telling a single story. There are fewer stand-up routines, and drama, at times, overshadows the star’s renowned humor.

Each episode of Louie is unpredictable. In the first season, the focus was on comedy and jokes. As seasons progressed, though, the show became more somber to the point where there are dead-serious episodes. Whenever Louie includes darker circumstances, I can only watch more intensely. The funny-to-serious genre-bending is so masterfully done that I could be laughing and in a few seconds, feel my skin tremble with intense emotion. Louie isn’t a comedy nor a drama, but rather, a transcendent fusion of both.

My favorite episode of the series, “New Year’s Eve,” epitomizes this blend of comedy and drama. It begins in Louie’s home on Christmas morning as he watches his two girls open their gifts. He runs into Liz, a prior love interest he’s been searching for, and she suddenly dies moments later, a minute before the New Year begins. The episode quickly shifts to the end with a melancholic Louie in China (of all places). It amazes me that all this happened in under thirty minutes.

Season five of Louie will come out on April 9 for a shortened nine-episode stint (compared to fourteen from season 4). All that can be done now is wait, or perhaps watch his new stand-up special. That sounds pretty good, too.


My favorite Louie episodes:

  1. New Year’s Eve
  2. Elevator Part 6
  3. Duckling
  4. So Did the Fat Lady
  5. Eddie
  6. Come On, God
  7. Bully