In the first minutes of Louie’s season premiere, Louie CK’s daughter tells him that she likes spending time at her mom’s house because she’s a better cook than he is. That, and she loves her more. CK takes this in stride. It’s just one more unpleasant truth in a long string that I imagine began not long after he was born. They finish brushing her teeth and as she heads off to bed, Louie gives her finger, and says that he loves her.
The ability to take unpalatable truths and turn them into something we can laugh at is what makes Louie such a unique show. Fans of CK may know the story of how the whole thing came about. FX offered him the chance to develop a show, but said they couldn’t pay him as much as other networks. To make up for the low paycheck, they gave him complete creative control. CK writes, directs and edits every episode of the show. And rather than get a group of friends together and tell the same dick jokes over and over again — I’m looking at you, Nick Swardson — he put together a show that, whether it’s funny or slightly depressing, always manages to stick with you.
And the thing about Louie is that it can take almost any premise and turn it into something thoughtful. In this week’s episode, Louie’s pregnant sister comes to visit. They spend some time shooting the breeze, complaining about Louie’s ex-wife and raising kids. Later that night, Louie hears her screaming about some pain in her stomach, and has to rush to get her to the hospital. His neighbors, who Louie doesn’t know, come over to help. One of them stays with his kids while the other one helps him to the hospital. As a group of doctors and nurses roll his sister into the emergency room, all yelling over each other, she farts. And, well, that’s it.
Is it crass? Yeah, a little bit. But I think it says something about getting our hopes up and ultimately being let down, or having things turn out differently than expected. Louie’s sister is screaming and pregnant, so obviously something’s wrong with the baby. But it turns out to be gas. Louie spends years raising and caring for his daughters only to have his youngest tell him that she loves her mother more. In these situations what can you do besides stand there and wave the stink out of your face?
I’ve seen the first four episodes of the new season, and they tend to skew a little darker than what we saw last year. And that’s okay. Serious Louie is just as good, sometimes better than funny Louie. And after being hit in the face with those promos for The New Girl, I’m convinced we need a show like Louie if for no other reason than to bring a sense of balance back to the cosmos.