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Louie's Intensely Uncomfortable Milestone
June 20, 2011  | By Eric Gould

Louis C.K.'s self-titled "Louie" is subtitled "misery loves company" and fortunately, we're able to oblige him in short comedies where life usually gets the upper hand. The second season debuts on FX June 23rd, at 10:30.

While everyone knows and loathes "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David, Louie's more of a self-made pariah of his own small world. He's undramatically lit on New York sidewalks where the insults and bungles aren't a madcap mis-happenstance, (like David's,) but simply eye to eye, unspectacular, and more withering. It's a show perhaps from the audience's point of view as co-conspirators, with Louie happening to lead the way, cameras in tow.
FX-Louie-Walking In New York

In that sense, Louie does us a real favor. He gives us modern, alienated life as we all know it, having to walk with him down the crowded streets, and attempting to get by with some dignity. His usual stand-up material is featured prominently here, (in their own segments.) It's confessional humor -- touching on raising his kids as a divorced parent, dating in middle age, trying to make a living in New York, etc.
There's no quippy sit-com dry cleaner here, just a corner grocer who can't be bothered to listen closely to his order. Louie's a non-star of his own life, and we just happen to be bystanders.

The genius here, is that while the Seinfeldian "nothing" is the focus, he gets us into some truly awful territories that smartly turn hilarious, such as when his five year old daughter casually lets out that she thinks she loves Mommy more, likes staying at her place more, and the food is better there. He responds in a similarly childish way himself. But to his credit, Louie's nothing if not honest, and he's not hiding anything here.

By shamelessly uncovering it all, he gives us all his wit as well as his selfish, neurotic worst. (Would that be be able do without the scatological references he seems to think he needs--he doesn't.)
He goes shopping for real estate he can't afford, freely admits to not saving for his kids future, and ungratefully bitches about the comedian's life to Joan Rivers in her hotel room, (Episode Four, "Joan" July 14th.)

In "Bummer/Blueberries", (Episode Two, June 30th,) he maybe gets to one of the most uncomfortable moments in TV history when he starts a liaison with one of the divorced Mom's from his kid's school (Fearlessly played by Maria Dizzia.)

It's perhaps today's harsh, reality-esque equivalent of Mary Tyler Moore's endearing "Chuckles the Clown" moment (where she laughs uncontrollably at a funeral.) But then some, for its utter jaw-dropping, sexual inappropriateness.

It's arresting and funny, but it also taps into Louie's humanity. And that allows him to darkly go where most sit-com characters can't: a fully fleshed person, ordinary, petty, but with enough compassion intact to gracefully attempt the right things.

FX has "Archer", "The League", the upcoming debut of the brilliant American remake of "Wilfred", and "Louie" as a squad of comedies which may set them apart from other cable networks; a niche stop for quick, thirty minute visits to a brutally smart, weird, and comically awkward world.
I'll be visiting regularly.