FX’s Louie is a very odd show. Written, directed by, and starring Louis C.K., it’s semi-autobiographical, semi-comedic, and semi-dramatic. There is nothing ‘semi-‘ about its quality, though. Perhaps best described as an extended vignettes (occasionally running into multiple episodes), interspersed with Louie C.K. stand-up bits, the show defies easy definition, but it’s always compelling, insightful, and authentic in ways no other TV show comes close.
The third season of Louie was recently released as a three-disc DVD set. The 13 episodes run a gamut in terms of story, but the usually somber, and frequently pathetic, tone is consistent. Louie is a divorced father of two young girls who tries to date and interact with the world while maintaining a career as a stand-up comedian. A few events in this season give him hope that he can finally improve his standing, but as one expects, that never quite happens.
Louie and the Ladies
A major theme in of season three involves Louie’s interactions with females. His daughters, Lilly (Hadley Delany) and Jane (Ursula Parker) are a big part of that, of course, but he also goes on dates with various women, including Liz (Parker Posey), Maria (Maria Bamford), and Laurie (Melissa Leo, who won an Emmy for the role). Louie doesn’t understand the opposite sex, this much is clear, but he really tries. He does understand that women are all different, though, and he tries to give his daughters the freedom to be who they want to be, as long as they also end up as good people. Finding a steady girlfriend could help him provide the girls with a role model, but the task proves difficult. This is dealt with quite heavily in the two-parter, “Daddy’s Girlfriend.”
The Life of a Standup
Another thing Louie ponders is getting his own talk show. In the three-part “Late Show,” Louie interviews to be David Letterman’s possible replacement (this was before Letterman announced he was stepping down and Stephen Colbert was replacing him in real life). Finding out he may just be being used as leverage against the network’s first choice, Jerry Seinfeld (himself), Louie begins to wonder how much he really even wants the job. Should he fight for it, or is he better off staying out of the late night game, as Jay Leno (himself) advises? Louie seeks the counsel of many of his peers, but is still torn.
Does this mean Louie is afraid of success? I don’t think the real Louie is, or he wouldn’t be working so hard to make Louie. He gets complete creative control of the process, and even takes a year off or shortens a season as he sees fit, and the viewers and critics still flock back. But you have to wonder what success means to Louie the character.
Other episodes are stand-alone. Louie has a horrible day in “Something Is Wrong.” He develops an awkward friendship with a lifeguard in “Miami.” He is one of only two people to attend a funeral for a terrible guy in “Barney/Never.” He makes up (again) with Marc Maron (himself) in “Ikea/Piano Lesson.” He freaks out about seeing his estranged father in “Dad.” He confronts the death of a sister (Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation) and travels to China in “New Year’s Eve.” All of these and more are really interesting, thought-provoking installments, and while continuity between them may not always be present, they are great in their own right.
The only complaint I have about Louie – The Complete Season 3 is the same one I’ve had about Fox’s other recent releases: no bonus features. I’m sure Louie could give us some really neat insight into his process if the studio had let him. And also, this season only gets the DVD treatment nearly two years after it finished airing, rather than a timely Blu-ray release, as past seasons have seen. Louie and Louie deserve better.
Louie – The Complete Season 3 is available now.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B008NEMQ5W,B003R4ZMOA]