The beautiful thing about Louie is that it doesn’t lend itself to any strict classification. It’s very funny, but it’s not necessarily a comedy. It’s by no means a drama. It’s just Louie. It’s hilarious, poignant, weird, filthy, touching, and just so much more.
One of the key elements is the crushing reality of everything. The world is a strange place, and Louie gets that just right. It uses a somewhat (but not really) subtle hyperbole to accentuate this. Season 4 opens with a scene of garbagemen invading Louis C.K.’s bedroom as he tries to sleep. It’s an obvious metaphor, but a great visual. It’s similar to that moment in the pilot when a date goes so poorly for Louie, that the woman flees from him in an actual helicopter.
The first episode, Back, is a solid return to Louie’s strange reality. There’s the trashmen, the great vibrator conversation over poker, and Louie’s encounter with an unhelpful doctor (played by Charles Grodin). The second episode, Model, is the strange sort of adventure that really sets this show apart.
The premise of Louis C.K. in the black tie territory of the Hamptons could be enough to build an entire episode around, but then it goes and veers off on a lark with an adventurous model played by Yvonne Strahovski. They speak from a distance and can barely hear each other. They speak next to each other in a convertible and can barely hear each other. She keeps darting out of Louie’s focus. She jumps into his arms and he can barely muster a protest.
Louie never feels comfortable in this situation. It doesn’t sit right with him. He’s still processing everything after having sex with this beautiful woman. Suddenly, she’s tickling Louie. He protests, but she doesn’t listen. She’s still in the driver’s seat and refuses to let go. The tension that Louie’s been holding in throughout the episode is released like a rubber band with one spastic reaction. Unfortunately, that release lands her in hospital and him dealing with an angry set of parents. In the blink of an eye, Louie goes from that bed to getting punched in the hospital by this woman’s father.
Just writing this out, nothing here sounds funny, but it really is. The show’s use of dark humor and situations is amazing. It uses awkwardness and insecurity, these unpleasant feelings, to its advantage. Most of us can relate to how Louie feels, even if the situation is beyond our comprehension. Louie loses most of the time. His greatest victory was a successful try-out for a show that he didn’t get.
Model is a brutal ending to another unusual day in Louis C.K.’s fictional life. His nose is busted. He’s hopelessly indebted to people that are already far wealthier than he will ever be. But, he gets sympathy points with the girl that he had eyes on at the beginning of the episode, and he smiles. With Louie, it’s all about the small victories.