C.K. has revealed a great talent this season for observing the manic-depressive quality of modern life—from Parker Posey’s rooftop mood swing, to last week’s motor-boat belly laugh-turned-lonely bob on the high seas, to last night’s swerve from the ecstasy of a coffee-shop orgasm to the “boilerplate misery” of everyday existence. But despite the wild emotional shifts Louie’s characters can display in a single cut, the world around them nearly always falls somewhere in between those extremes: from not-so-bad to sort of unpleasant. “What are you gonna do otherwise,” Chloë Sevigny’s character asks Louie early on, trying to prod him into searching out Liz. “Just go home and give up?” Well, normally … yes! Isn’t that kind of what this show is “about”?
David: You rightly note that the supporting characters in Louie have their own needs and desires, and aren’t just there to help paint a fuller picture of our leading man. This is particularly striking when it comes to the supporting women. And we’ve all remarked on what amazing casting work C.K. and his team have done this season—replacing NYC it-girl Posey with NYC it-girl Sevigny is a highpoint for me, and a very funny inside joke. But does anyone else get the sense that C.K. kinda sorta really hates (or is terrified of) women that aren’t named Sarah Silverman? That he thinks we’re all either crazy or scary or crazy-scary? This aspect of the show is becoming a bit one-note. That scene in the school gym, with angry, needy mom-faces obscuring Louie’s sightlines at every turn—they might as well all have had warts on their noses! And though I continue to applaud the series for showing sexually aggressive women, must they also be pissed-off head-cases? No wonder our hero had a thing for the soft, sensitive Ramon.
If you agree with the above—though I suspect many of you won’t, and will explain why in the comments!—then you’ve got to figure out where Lilly and Jane fit in to all of this. When, through that sea of furious lady-faces, Louie spots poor Lilly being bullied by a bunch of mean girls, is she the exception to his rule? Or does her subsequent shutting him out—treating him “crappy,” with Jane on her side—actually make her one of the enemy, albeit one that he loves? Like Jonah, I too dug that moment on the sidewalk with Jane, when she bursts out in a language that her dad will never understand, a literal show of how frightening and alienating it must be for a single dad of mysterious girls. Girls with inner lives. Yikes!
One last thing: A friend IM’d me a theory this morning that I want to run by you guys and the readers: “The show depicts paranoia, social anxiety, and hallucinations,” he wrote. “The character of Louie is mentally ill.” I’m not buying it, but what say you?
Oh, and yay for Louie’s parental fuck-up turning out to be no fuck-up at all! Moms and dads of the world: It’s OK to go to the bathroom by yourself and shut out the world—she was in the closet the whole time.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.