Louie, Season 3

Louie Shows Us His Feminine Side.
Talking television.
July 5 2012 11:09 PM

Louie, Season 3

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Our hero has a feminine side.

Louie, Season 3.
Louie, Season 3.

Courtesy FX Network.

If last week’s episode was all about Louie’s blurry genitals, this week is all about Louie’s penis-brain acting like a stereotypical vagina: sensitive, demure, maternal. But before we get into the amazing gender role reversals of Episode 2, a question for my fellow “TV club” members, particularly for our special guest this week, Patton Oswalt: By forgoing narrative logic and creating a half-hour space where pretty much anything goes, has Louis C.K. gamed the system? That is, with the structure-less structure he’s built for the show, can C.K. ever actually mess up? We can’t knock the show for being unrealistic (a critique often lobbed at Girls, Aaron Sorkin shows, and the new Dallas) because, duh, it’s not supposed to be realistic! We can’t cry foul when emotions, let alone plot points, don’t track; we can’t get upset when an episode isn’t that funny. (Because isn’t that brave of him, to not always try to make us laugh?) The dude can’t lose. Is this genius, or—I’m conjuring my best whiny daughter voice here –totally unfair?

While you ponder that, I’ll move on to the episode, which, by the way, is terrific. We start with an idyllic father-daughter dinner table scene, with the girls rattling off a series of knock-knock jokes. From the youngest, Jane:

Knock knock?

Who’s there?

Painter.

Painter who?

The painter who painted both of you as mermaids, but instead of being underwater, it’s pee-pee.

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Episode 2 is bookended by these adorable family tableaux, with Louie having cooked the meal and later clearing the dishes. But in between is something a bit less adorable: an extended date with Melissa Leo’s pickup truck-driving, landscape business-owning, cigarette-smoking, insult-grunting Laurie. Louie is lured to his comic buddy’s house under the guise of a regular dinner invitation, but when he shows up (on his motorcycle!), it’s a set-up. “Louie, this is Laurie. Laurie, this is Louie.” Working their way through an awkward meal—he keeps his eyes on his plate and speaks softly, she aggressively saws at her food with a butter knife— Laurie and Louie eventually end up on the front porch, dismissing the marrieds who can’t help but want everyone to suffer their fate. “I don’t want a husband,” Laurie says before fleeing with Louie to a dive bar. “Last thing I need is another mouth to feed.”

Homemaker, meet breadwinner.

OK, so: A vagina and a penis walk into a bar. They get very, very drunk and laugh a lot. “The best part about” this date, says Laurie as they drive away from the bar in her truck, “is that I never have to see your face again!” Given that, she beelines for an empty lot and demands: “Whip it out! Let me blow you.” My word! thinks lady Louie, before obliging as the camera cuts to outside the vehicle, withholding any possible viewer turn-on. “Strap on the feed bag!” Laurie shouts next, leaning back in her seat and waiting for Louie to return the oral favor, which he declines to do out of some naïve notion that sex acts should be about, what? Feelings? “That’s very intimate, and I don’t really know you,” he explains. Laurie is enraged at this decorum--“Where are the gentlemen?? What is wrong with this country? OBAMA,” she growls just moments before bashing Louie’s head into the truck window and forcing herself on him. You might call this sexual assault, or perhaps date rape. After Laurie’s all pleasured up, in fact, Louie agrees to see her again, a psychology familiar to anyone who has read about the case of Jeffery Marsalis.

Am I getting too serious here? Did you guys also view this as a Very Special (and Hilarious, and Well-Acted, and Honest) Episode of Louie? Did you think the balance of message and tone worked? And do you think that C.K. (the real guy, not the one on TV) wrote this one for his daughters (the real ones, not the ones on TV)? In his opening monologue, Louie talks about catching himself bent over, screaming at his daughter with his index finger in her face. “I’m her first asshole,” he realizes, knowing there will be many, many more to come.

Allison

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