Louis CK is FEARLESS. There is nothing too embarrassing, too awkward, too humiliating for that man. Nothing he wouldn’t do for the sake of getting a laugh. A mere two episodes into this season of Louie, CK has already topped the shock and awe of previous seasons. The thing is, though, it doesn’t feel like a “for shock value” approach. It feels organic, natural somehow. These situations he creates in each episode of Louie actually seem like something that could happen to someone. Not to anyone I know, but to someone.
The season premiere was typical Louie. Self-deprecating, awkward, cringe-inducing Louie. It begins with a monologue, as usual, involving Louie’s issues with aging. Always slightly vulgar, vaguely sexual, with self-loathing undertones. The scenes that follow, which don’t necessarily have any relation to the subject of the monologue or to each other, connect a series of moments that together create a situation in which you’ll often watch with mouth agape, the occasional “What the fuck?” crossing your lips. More often than not, Louie displays a social awkwardness that walks a tightrope between hilarious and painful to watch. In this episode, Louie’s girlfriend (delightfully played by Gaby Hoffman – when did she get old enough to play Louis CK’s girlfriend?!) breaks up with him in a strange and unusual, yet oddly realistic, way. Louie walks out of the diner in which he was just dumped, sees his car smashed by a construction crew and decides to buy a motorcycle. Which, of course, he immediately wrecks, landing himself in the hospital with minor injuries. His ex-wife, now pissed at him because he can’t pick up their girls, has no compassion and Louie lives alone. Who happens to come by? The girlfriend who just broke it off with him. Mercilessly, she takes pity on him and helps take care of him in his hour of need. You begin to think maybe they’ll reconnect or at least share a pleasant evening but you’re a fool for thinking it because of course, Louie won’t allow something like that to happen. Of course, by the end of the scene, he’ll be confused, bewildered and playing the asshole screw-up he never means to be. Yes, Louie will fuck it up somehow. Typical.
Episode Two begins with Louie talking about his daughters and the absurd jokes they tell. It’s cute and funny and kind of sweet. What follows is a series of scenes that have nothing at all to do with his girls or their jokes but which all lead to an ending that left me with my jaw planted firmly on the floor. (Much due to a wonderful guest role by the talented Melissa Leo.) I think my first words following it were something like, “Holy shit – Louie is bonkers!” By which I meant, Louis CK knows no limits. I won’t give any details away because, well, it would sound illogical and unreal. But also I don’t want to ruin it for any of you who plan to watch it. Let me just say that the cute, sweet beginning is no indication whatsoever of what’s to follow. And, in typical Louie fashion, what starts out as a reasonable, normal enough situation abruptly and surprisingly becomes something so insane, so outrageous, you think no way does this shit ever happen to real people. Yet, somehow, you think certainly it could.
How he manages to create scenarios that are simultaneously believable and completely batshit is beyond me. How he is able, week after week to shock and appall without ever seeming like he’s trying to is equally baffling. Louis CK’s humor is not for everyone and definitely not for those without a sense of irony and an appreciation for the darker aspects of life. But I’m beginning to think he’s something of a genius mastermind, carefully orchestrating these situations that astound, shock, entertain as well as leave you able to relate to them or the characters in them. As well as make you laugh.