Over its first three seasons, Louis CK has created a darkly surreal existence in Louie that still manages to find a tinge of light. It’s one of the most unique series on television, defying genre descriptions. In some ways it feels familiar (there are aspects of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, and other reality-based comedies), but what makes Louie always stand apart is its devotion to the emotionally sincere, the raw and honest, and sometimes the very beautiful. Hit the jump for why you should “abandon your kids. Then you can sleep better.”
While every season of Louie has been excellent, the third season truly outdid itself. The episodes featuring Liz (Parker Posey) were haunting in their beauty, and dreamlike in execution. The way her face falls at the end of “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2,” when the two are on a rooftop and she looks out over the city, was one of the most beautiful scenes on television last year. It also played into Louie‘s tempered world. Nothing ever gets too good or too bad. We experience things, they don’t really change us, and we move on.
You don’t have to subscribe to Louis CK’s worldview to fall in love with the series, though. Some of the best episodes are ones where Louie is confronted by a prejudice he has, and looks at it in a new way. In the new season’s particularly good episode, “So Did The Fat Lady,” Louie cowers from acknowledging his aversion to overweight women. He gives plenty of airtime to a woman he meets, Vanessa, who explains exactly how she feels about the issue, using Louie as a foil to address her concerns about societal norms. It’s powerful, and earnest.
Conversations among his comedian friends are also some of the greatest scenes, particularly their foul poker games, which also serve as a kind of group therapy. They rib each other, but there’s a trust, an honesty and naturalism to the proceedings that makes being a fly on the wall a very conflicted feeling. On the one hand, you’re shielded from the barbs. On the other, you still want to join in and share.
All of these elements are back in Louie‘s fourth season. Additionally, Louie experiences new challenges with his daughters (that are sometimes surrealistic, like in the fourth episode when daughter Jane keeps telling Louie that he and everyone are all part of her dream, even when she’s awake). The first four episodes feel, at times, like that great run of episodes in the third season, where Louie auditioned to take over the Late Show. Sealing the deal on its strangeness, David Lynch — master of projecting the subconscious — even appeared to guide Louie through his comedic Inferno, like a bouffant-ed Beatrice with a flat accent. It’s not as overt this time around, but that unsettled air still permeates everything, particularly during a nightmarish time Louie has in the Hamptons for a benefit show.
Louie’s world is one filled with rejection, either by him or of him, and in most episodes he becomes (or is seen as) a burden or inconvenience to others, just by going through his normal day. Ultimately though, he’s ok with things. Even the most terrible situations end up having some redemptive coda, usually just over the credit sequence. It’s just a little reassurance that things even out. In the new season, Louie deals with a lot of his old issues: dating, money, aging, weight, family. Things don’t change much for him, but selfishly, we don’t want them to.
Louie returns to FX Monday, May 5th at 10 p.m., with weekly back-to-back episodes throughout its fourth season run. Make sure to like Louie on Facebook.