Friday, July 13, 2012
Louie - "Miami"
Holy shit, at the risk of hyperbole, "Miami" is one of the best Louie episode to date. First and foremost, before I get into the meat of the episode, I just gotta say that Louis the filmmaker has truly arrived. In a recent AV Club interview Louis stated that he really wanted to justify the third season; he wanted to pull out all the stops, and make this the best season to date. He is culturally savvy enough to realize the fickleness of the public. If you offer only equally good, it's never good enough. To sustain attention, growth is necessary. So far, success.
I mean, what was the beginning section of "Miami" if not the best French New Wave film that was never released? Mostly an impressionistic series of images representing most that shame-filled Louis hates about Miami, this sequence was largely built in the editing room (not to take anything away from the beautiful shots, of course. Also, Louis is certainly getting his money's worth out of new editor hire Susan E. Morse). We catch glimpses of Louie in the airport; then at the beach; then back at the hotel room, passing out to a burger; then back at the beach, among the other pot-bellied middle-age men: all locations blending together to the point that it is hard sometimes to see where one ends and the other begins.
(You'll forgive me if some of the details are fuzzy, as my Louie review routine consists of watching the episode before going to work and then quickly penning my thoughts.)
I love that Louis teases with damn near every scene, holding back before we get too much information. This section serves no narrative purpose, only tonal. Indeed, even the stand-up routine is cut short. After the set-up—Louie hates balloons, apparently—we are quickly whisked away to another scene. But, as I said, this section serves to set a tone, and an impression of the toned, buff Miami that Louie has a distaste for. And then these perceptions are dismantled.
Mostly, "Miami" was about misconceptions. Louie is shocked and delighted to discover that the real Miami—the one not dominated by entitled, vapid, toned supermodel types—is actually quite wonderful. When lifeguard Ramon takes Louie on a tour of his Miami—
But let me back-track by way of another misconception earlier in the episode. When all the hot young people have left the beach for the day, Louis and the other out-of-shape older men claim the beach; and Louie goes for a swim. And then Louie sees a resort employee packing away the beach chair on which Louie placed his wallet and keys and whatnot, so he screams out to the guy; which Ramon the lifeguard mistakes for a cry for help. He rescues Louie, who is ashamed that Ramon thought he was drowning. Not that he lets that shame prevent him from hanging out with Ramon. And so is built a friendship based on false assumptions.
During a conversation after Louie's show, the comedian asks the Cuban lifeguard if he came to America on a raft, which Ramon takes as an insult. But Louie quickly apologizes, realizing he was just making a stupid assumption. And Ramon, likewise, is shocked to discover that the white-as-fuck Louie is actually Mexican. Mexico does not, in fact, consist of one homogeneous racial group. Misconceptions everywhere up in here.
And, as I said before, Louie is pleasantly surprised that Ramon's Miami is actually quite wonderful. He had no idea that once you escape from the disgusting resort areas, and hang out with the folks who live in the "real" Miami, a good time is actually possible in this city. (That line about the folks in the high-rises being out of touch and lonely felt a tad too on the nose, however.) And so, Louie decides to stay a few extra days and hang out with his new friend. And, for the biggest misconception of all, Ramon assumes that Louie is coming on to him.
I loved the way this scene was handled. It actually reminded me of the silent break-up from the premiere episode. Ramon states what he thinks is Louie's true intention, and Louie attempts to correct his assumption—without either man actually ever stating anything. Yes, it is a brilliant piece of writing, but it also speaks to the pointless, self-imposed barrier us stright men frequently construct to protect us from the wonderful experiences that might have the side-effect of possibly implying gayness (and, of course, in the stand-up routine that follows, Louie makes explicit this theme. It also reminded me, incidentally, of a similar, hilarious routine from Bill Burr.)
Indeed, Ramon and Louis can't even say gay. It has that much power that two open-minded men who support gay rights can't even say the word, lest it accidentally imply gayness. In an episode built on misconceptions, an episode in which each man lets slide the various false assumptions hurled his way, this is the one that makes them uncomfortable; this is the one puts a wall between the two men. And it's a damn shame.