Hey. It's been a while.
THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A TELEVISION SHOW LIKE F/X'S LOUIE...EVER...
Great, hyperbole out of the way early, but just in case you missed it - THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A TELEVISION SHOW LIKE F/X'S LOUIE...EVER.
Seriously. Louie is such a singular achievement in a world where we have long thought nothing new could be done to shake up the sitcom formula. I am in awe.
Here's how all sitcoms work and have worked regardless of what they're about through the history of time. There is a short tease to start the episode wherein a problem of some sort is brought up. Then there is an opening credits sequence (these have, admittedly, been phased out as of late so sometimes there's not) then someone formulates a plan on how to solve said problem and it doesn't work. Commercial. New plan, problem solved. Commercial. Final sting with a joke and we're out. Also, during this whole process another, less important and usually jokier, story is playing out. It's resolution usually ties in with what is going on in the other story.
That's how it works, folks. From Dick Van Dyke to Ray Romano, Roseanne to Arrested Development, Lucy to iCarly. That's it. That's how it goes.
Oh but wait...you mean, it doesn't always have to do that? See, we've been told it does. And it's not a bad formula. Greatness has come from this and it can and has been played for smirky, wink-wink in-jokes for forever, but it's a formula that has been clung to for as long as sitcoms existed. Networks make you do it. There are books about it.
Louis C.K. doesn't give a shit about that and luckily he had enough clout to convince F/X to allow him to do a show with complete creative control. This is his vision, folks. now upon first glance an idiot may try and tell you that Louie is like Seinfeld because C.K.'s stand up is interspersed throughout the show. It's not like Seinfeld. That's a stupid assessment. Then, maybe some other idiots will tell you it's like Curb Your Enthusiasm seeing as how C.K. is technically playing a modified version of himself, a comedian who is irked by lots of stuff. It's not like Curb Your Enthusiasm. That's a stupid assessment.
Louie follows no traditional sitcom rules, so although it certainly borrows some aspects of other shows and can, sometimes, be tonally similar, it's something all it's own. First of all, there are not three acts and no conflict resolution that plays out over 22 minutes. Louie has two completely separate pieces that play more like two short films than anything else. There is no B-story anywhere to be found because Louie doesn't have any true supporting characters. As far as I can tell they will change week to week. Oh and you know what else? It's still really fucking funny...and then sometimes it's not. I was staggered by the opening sequence of episode 2.
Let me set the scene, Louie is playing poker with some of his comedian buddies. Guys you'd recognize, Jim Norton, Nick DiPaelo all playing themselves, when talk turns to one of their poker buddies who happens to be gay (I'm not sure who he is and I'm not gonna pretend). What follows is a pointed conversation between these comedians and their use of the word faggot on stage. It's a funny conversation, but it's also eye-opening and, dare I say it, touching. None of these "characters" betray themselves in the moment. It's well written and it's FUCKING honest. You have never seen a scene like this on a sitcom...ever. And, you know what? It's the whole first act.
Louie is remarkable. It looks great. It's gritty. It feels like New York. It sounds great. The dialogue is spot on and, again, real. It's a comedy, sure but it's also about this man, this real life man going through a divorce and trying to live. It's the Friday Night Lights of sitcoms and if you have ever worked in television and have been told it has to be a done a specific way, fuck that, Louie is proving it doesn't.