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Streamlined

By Reed Thornburg     4/17/13 7:00pm

Few people have the ability to hate like Louis C.K. can, and in the first two seasons of his sitcom-defying television program Louie, he turns anger into an art form.

Louie is loosely based on the day-to-day life of C.K. himself. Louie is quiet and caustic, but more than anything, perceptive. He is a stand-up comedian, and his onstage performances occasionally interject themselves in the series - the Seinfeld comparisons are warranted. He avoids cynicism and always reminds the viewer there is nothing and no one he loathes more than himself. A typical episode involves equal parts sighs to laughs, but be warned, the show often spreads these moments of hilarity and poignancy amid a vast sea of buildup. Still, the lethargic pace of the show compliments C.K.'s subtle comedic style.

There is no laugh track, and character development is minimal. The series is comprised of mostly independent episodes, and consistency is not a primary concern (In season one, the actress who plays his mother changes without explanation). Usually, the episodes deal with specific themes such as life after divorce and issues Louie faces as a single parent. In one particularly funny stand-up bit, Louie talks about his role as a cafeteria volunteer and the needlessly sophisticated design of milk cartons for small hands.



C.K. writes, directs and stars in nearly every episode, which appears to reinforce the show's central theme of isolation. Surprisingly, this sense of loneliness is perhaps the show's greatest strength. While Louie does occasionally wallow in its self-loathing, it nonetheless serves the valid purpose of making Louie's problems seem human and relatable. His loneliness helps the viewer cope with similar problems. Even though the show is categorically bleak, it often leaves the viewer strangely uplifted. I suspect this comes from Louie's ability to seem like a friend.

Louie is not the friend you want when you are excited or the friend who can instantly cheer you up with a punchy one-liner. He is, however, the friend who does not need orange Wellbeing Week flags to indicate why he is unwell. He knows and probably has something rather funny to say on the matter. Louie is the type of friend who shows you his D-minus in Physics 101 to make you feel less alone.

It is almost time for finals. Louie is your best friend.



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