Saturday, June 30, 2012
Louie - "Something Is Wrong"
In the routine that made me a life-long fan of Louis CK, the once struggling comedian discussed being so broke that the bank started charging him money for having no money. It was bits such as this, in fact, that garnered Louis most of his earliest, most ardent supporters. The appeal was obvious: he was a struggling everyman whose biting social observations rang true for any of us who have ever had "to raise ten bucks just to be broke." He was one guy I really wanted to see make it big.
But part of me worried that such success would cause him to lose touch, to lose his relatability, to start phoning it in. I can now see, however, how unfounded these fears were. It should have come as no surprise that someone as clever as Louis would be able to effortlessly navigate the transition. Now that he's successful, Louis no longer plays up the struggling everyman aspect of his earlier persona; he knows it would ring false. As he acknowledged in his recent Live at the Beacon Theater special, "I'm not like you. I'm not, I'm not. All the things you do, I do a better version of all those things." In a hilariously self-deprecating manner, he now acknowledges that he has enough money to waste it foolishly.
Louis is a man who can now—in one of the best sequences of the third season premier of Louie—casually plunk down $7500 on a midlife crisis motorcycle. Just because (well, and also because in a hilarious earlier scene a construction crew destroyed his car...also, just because); and then joyride through New York. Which, by the way, how much has Louis grown as a filmmaker. I've always admired the man's chops, but, goddamn, the New York motorcycle ride sequence was absolutely stunning.
And speaking of artistic growth, I admire the ballsiness of beginning the season with the end of a six month relationship that we are only now aware has been existing. Of course, as we all know, Louie is a show without structure—or at least not a conventional one—so such a story is not completely out of the norm. Characters who would be central to the structure of other shows, flit in and out of this fictional universe. Part of the appeal of Louie is that it hits the reset button after each story; it's more a series of short films than a TV series.
And that's certainly the case with Louis' fictional relationship with Gaby Hoffman's character. With elegant efficiency, Louis displays the pointlessness that would have been the chronicling of the entire affair. We don't need to see the previous six months of their relationship to understand the dynamic. They are in tune enough at this point that she can read his subtle body language/facial expressions and realize that the wishy-washy wimp is silently, passive-aggressively breaking up with her. Or is he? He hesitates enough that it's obvious even he doesn't know. It's just easier to stay than stop.
I'm interested to see how the rest of the season will play out—not in terms of continuing story-lines, obviously, because Louie thankfully never bothers with that shit, but in terms of structure. I think Louis is finding a nice groove. Over the course of the series it seems that he has become less interested in the sorts of multi-sketch episodes he used to rely on more. Although I definitely like those episodes, I find that my favorites have been the single story pieces (Bully, God, Eddie, Niece). All in all, an excellent start to the season.