Louis C.K. was nominated this morning for the show “Louie” on F/X and his role in it. Chances are you haven’t been watching – the ratings were below a million viewers per episode at the start of the 4th season – but you should. It’s confident in a way that only a show that’s written, directed, edited and starring the same person can be. It was nominated in the comedy category, but manages to be deeply moving. But it’s also surreal and absurd, throwing continuity out the window in a way that implies that entertaining himself is more important to Louis C.K. than making sense.
This interview in an issue of GQ magazine earlier this year calls him the “undisputed kind of comedy.” It provides a little glimpse into why he’s so good. The hard work, the attention to detail. The willingness to explore the darkest parts of himself and human nature. Louis C.K. is trying to reach a deeper understanding of why we do the things we do. Watch his stand up if you want to hear him lay out his philosophy. But on the show over which he has complete creative control, he’s a jack-ass and a clown about 85% of the time and the rest of the time he’s a hero. Some scenes are jarring, including a cringe-worthy and awkward attempted seduction and Louie punching a beautiful woman in the face.
Your move, every other show-runner in Hollywood.
“So Did the Fat Lady” introduces perhaps the most fully realized, complicated female guest starring role I’ve ever seen on TV. A waitress at a comedy club points out a sexual double standard that nobody ever talks about. Actress Sarah Baker delivers a jaw-dropping monologue about what it’s like to date in New York in your 30’s as a fat girl. Although Baker wasn’t even nominated this morning, the academy should deliver a truck full of Emmys to everyone involved in the production of this scene:
In “In the Woods,” Louis creates a deeply touching short film (90 minutes, including commercials) about adolescence, starring a bunch of fantastic, unknown child actors (and one Academy Award winning actor in Jeremy Renner). That’s really hard to do well. But Louis does – and calls it episode 12. At that point, he’s just showing off.
And then in the season 4 finale “Pamela, part 2,” he does what could arguably be the bravest thing he could possibly do on screen. Viewers see as much of Louis C.K.’s body as cable TV will allow as he strips and gets into a bathtub while a beautiful woman makes fun of his body.
“Louie” had a stunning fourth season, and deserves all the critical acclaim it’s getting, and lots of awards. My only complaint is that the show has too many commercials. But I can’t even hold a grudge at F/X because I’m so glad they give Louis C.K. his own show and let him do whatever he wants.