Has there ever been a better take on men thinking with their dicks than Louie’s blurry penis? I love imagining him wandering around New York, trying to get shit done but constantly bumping into pedestrians, hopping on the G instead of the F, accidentally ordering off of the “healthy choice” section of diner menus, and grabbing someone else’s kid at school pickup, all because his penis can’t see.
This is essentially what happens to Louie in the Season 3 debut. Though at first, his dick is crystal clear: I, penis, declare that I am no longer interested in dating April and therefore will use my incredible will power to force her to dump me. Louie’s refusal to actually say the words that would initiate the breakup is nothing short of masterful, and though Jonah sees April as the grown-up in this scenario, I can’t help but admire the endurance of our hero, pretend-glum and practically mute, slumped in his booth and waiting—just waiting—for April to make it all done so that he can dive into that huge bowl of ice cream, clearly ordered as a prize for achieving his desired result through remarkable inaction. Who’s emotionally intelligent now?
It’s not long, however, until the mix of ice cream, newfound freedom, and the heightened indignities of New York living (my car has never been crushed by a bulldozer, but many side-mirrors have been lost to snow plows) blur Louie’s path, and there he goes, eyeing and then buying a motorcycle like the stupid dick that he is. (C.K. himself was apparently an impulse buyer as a young man. Trumpets, according to this Marc Maron podcast, were his thing.)
OK, a time-out here just to appreciate the scene of Louie zipping and gliding around town on his new bike, past the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge like a French New Wave hero. I love that scene not just for the way it “resolves”—with Louie’s badass biker helmet giving way to a hospital head brace—but for its logistical challenges and artistic aspirations. Whereas C.K.’s earlier sitcom, Lucky Louie, was fixed to a soundstage, Louie just keeps getting more technically ambitious. (C.K. told Bill Simmons earlier this week that the show filmed an episode in China.) I don’t know if that motorcycle montage necessarily adds anything to the half-hour, other than driving a plot that likely won’t matter a week from now, but the general “that would be AWESOME! Let’s do it!” approach to creating television—whether pulling it off with real skill, or fucking it up a little—is something I think we all love about Louie.
Where are we? Oh, right: Louie’s penis is off-course again. So there he is in the hospital, calling his ex to let her know that he can’t pick up the girls and … she black! Jonah, you asked what we thought of that, and I’m pretty sure my reaction was the only one to have: Louie beats Girls again! OK, fine: What I actually thought was apparently exactly what C.K. wanted me to think: “When people probably first see her, their brains do a little bit of DNA map and go ‘I'm not sure I get how that would happen,’ he told Indiewire earlier this week. “And then I think with my show most people, they go ‘Oh, all right, just go ahead.’ And then they watch the scene.” That’s what I did. A quick question mark floated over my head—she’s black? What about the daughters?—and then I tilted my head and accepted it. The sensation of having my expectations upended, though, felt briefly similar to how jarring it used to be when sitcoms would hire a new actor for an already established role (the two Beckys of Roseanne, e.g.). But it only took me a second to get over, underlining how successful C.K. has been at creating this weird absurdity-reality hybrid space where almost anything goes. Let me laugh at the totally accurate portrayal of New York’s incomprehensible parking signs and I’ll give you your totally illogical black wife.
Speaking of anything going: In that Bill Simmons chat, C.K. revealed that this season will feature a few storylines that stretch out over more than one episode. Sounds like there are going to be actual narrative arcs and shit. Are you guys excited for this, or worried?
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.