It’s a good job I don’t feel shame otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write about this topic (or blog at all, in fact). I have a confession. Here it is:
I don’t like Louie.
There, I’ve said it.
I don’t like Louie. I don’t think it’s fresh or original or even particularly funny. This has upset quite a few people I know who think it is the best thing on TV, ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it, I just don’t think it’s that good. I’ve watched them all and despite all the hype about how it “breaks all the rules” it doesn’t really. If anything, it’s a glorified Seinfeld (a show I also don’t like) in that nothing really changes and no-one learns anything. That in itself is not a bad thing, but is not enough on its own.
So we get to the jokes, which are pretty good. It’s quite a funny show, even if the plot lines of each (for want of a better word) skit are far too predictable in places. There are elements of surrealism (for example, in the first episode a disastrous first date ends with the woman fleeing in a helicopter), but these are used very sparsely. It would be tempting to see these surreal moments as lazy, but they would be unfair seeing as Louie C.K. writes, directs, stars in, and for the most part, edits each episode by himself.
Yet for all of this, I am surprised I don’t love it. It seems to have the old man tropes of bitterness and raging against injustice, no matter how petty. It also adopts a truth through humour position which I greatly admire and something comedian Doug Stanhope does to devastating effect. In fact, his cameo in one of the episodes saw me laugh more than at pretty much any other time, with the surreal repeat cameo of David Lynch being a possible exception.
What makes Louie C.K. different I think, is that for all his misanthropy, there is still a fundamental kernel of hope and optimism running underneath. I attribute this, I believe correctly, to his children. It is they, who provide something most people can relate to and help him achieve more mainstream success than similar comedians.
If he lost everything and became deeply embittered, I think I would enjoy both his TV and his stand-up work far more than I do, more than merely appreciating it (surely one of the most damning opinions of a comedian’s work). But I hope this doesn’t happen, because in spite of everything he seems like a nice guy and he is genuinely talented. But Louie, it’s just not my cup of tea.
I’m alright with that. You need to be too.