Louie, Season 5 Episode 1: “Pot Luck”

I love Louie. I haven’t seen all of it, just the pilot, most of season four and now the season five premiere, but it’s one of those shows that either clicks or it doesn’t. It’s annoying that the Comedy Channel doesn’t fast track it from the US, where the fifth season finished a couple of months ago, but I don’t mind because there’s not much on at the moment, and also it’s worth the wait. As an episode of television, “Pot Luck” is fine, but it’s not peak Louie, if that’s even a thing. Apparently a lot of people didn’t like season four, but between “So Did the Fat Lady”, which deservedly won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Writing – discussions of whether this is a comedy or a drama notwithstanding – and the six-part “Elevator” story, it was one of my favourite shows on television when I was watching it last year. This is all to provide context, because I didn’t dislike “Pot Luck”, but I also didn’t love it. We have expectations and when they’re not met we get disappointed, and in the case of Louie, it’s because we know that Louis C.K. can do so much better.

One of my favourite things about Louie is that it’s a slice out of this man’s life, this man being a fictionalised version of Louis C.K. himself. So after his therapy session, where he puts his therapist to sleep, he makes an effort to integrate into society more. He seems to realise he’s a boring asshole, but also his therapist is terrible and he should look for a new one. He invites himself to the pot luck put on by some of the other parents in Jane’s class, and even though they tell him that they need dessert, he insists on bringing fried chicken because that’s all he knows how to cook. He ends up at the wrong pot luck and accidentally leaves his chicken in the apartment so he goes to KFC. Hey Louie, you could have done the exact same thing with a cheesecake, it’s not that hard. He doesn’t fit in at the pot luck, the host isn’t exactly friendly towards him, and then he ends up taking an Uber home with the surrogate of her unborn child. He walks her up to her apartment, has some awkward words with her, they start to have sex and then she goes into labour. Of course the most distressing thing for the mother is that because she went into early labour, it won’t be a natural birth. Whatever.

This was an okay episode of Louie, but I’ve come to expect so much more from the show, and that’s on me. It’s also a bit on Louis C.K., but he gets a pass for one okay episode. I have issues with shows about middle aged white men (I can’t get through an episode of The Shield without having at least two things to do at the same time), but Louie is different, probably because Louis C.K. calls his less self-aware self on his bullshit. The woman hosting the potluck is right to think he’s an asshole for deciding to come along at the last minute and turning up late with fried chicken. At the same time, Louis C.K. is so good at making these characters who appear for just one episode feel like fully formed human beings that she’s also disappointing. I watched this with my brother (who can’t watch cringe comedy without talking at the tv because he’s so uncomfortable at the awkwardness, which I manage through keeping quiet until the moment passes), and he called the pot luck host a bitch. And she kind of is. Louie probably shouldn’t have sex for the surrogate, and he doesn’t just deserve sex for being nice to a woman who carried someone else’s baby for nine months, but childbirth is something you can’t control. Who is this woman, other than someone who has issues with Jane’s father? I know Louie can do better, and even though I wasn’t wild about the season premiere, I’m definitely going to be watching the rest of the season.

Other thoughts:

  • “I feel like I know enough things. I don’t need any more.”
  • “We’re a part of your experience. So whatever we can do to make this enjoyable for you”
  • I’m fairly sure those quotes are taken from Louis’ standup routine at the beginning of the episode, but I transcribed them without context, so they’re just there. I’m fairly sure the second one could have something to do with minorities, but it also wouldn’t be out of place in Paper Towns.
  • I am now going to check the release date for the Paper Towns movie.
  • On True Detective: I read some recaps on Pajiba and Uproxx today, and it seems that I really should be paying more attention to the show so I know that Colin Farrell/Ray Piccolo or whatever his name is – was shot in Ben’s sex dungeon. It’s why the walls are soundproofed. I missed a bunch of other stuff as well, but never mind. I guess I’ll keep watching it for those recaps, which were great.
  • One last thought after I’ve already published: this should have been a crossover episode with my favourite episode of Orphan Black, when Alison hosts the pot luck.
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