In this week’s TIME, I have a feature on Louis CK, whose amazing, idiosyncratic comedy Louie returns to FX next Thursday. The piece looks at the unusual financial and creative deal that he has for the show, and how that allows him to make a show that’s a more individual vision than just about anything on TV outside, say, South Park.
It also, appropriately enough for Father’s Day weekend, looks at the show’s distinctive take on single fatherhood. As I mention in the piece, one thing that stands out about Louie to me, and other parents I know who watch it, is how well it captures the work of parenting: not the emotional work, the Cosby Show handing down of wisdom, but the actual physical labor.
I’m going to try to post our full interview, or at least big chunks of it, when season 2 debuts next week. But in the meantime, here’s the longer version of the quote he gave me likening the work of parenting to the movie Platoon:
I love, I really admire parents that really throw down and really do it, you know. You feel like—I remember I was watching “Platoon” once and these guys are, well they just got all this shit they’re slinging and they all have special—like three different guys are carrying one bazooka, you know, and then they have to sort of assemble it. And when a guy’s got to run into the woods by himself, you know how they always have this scene of a guy saying okay, I’m going to go and run through the woods. And he’s taking off all the fucking gear so he would just be in the tank top, all that gear and shit. And when they get up they sort of hold on to their M16 and push themselves up, every time they stand up they’ve got all this shit on, they clank and stuff.
That’s what being a parent is like. It’s like Platoon. You’ve got all this fucking stuff; you have an impossible amount of shit to carry, and usually, a kid sometimes too. And I see parents all over the place with skinny little ankles, with no particular features and they just—life’s worn them down to a basic human shape. Their personality and whatever they—the lines in their face and the chiseling is gone. They’re just this thing and it’s like ant strength, and you just have to do it to get through whatever fucking—you know, we’ve got to get from here to there. And she doesn’t want to be here any more, and she has to go to the bathroom, and I’ve got a stroller.
And it was so much harder with all that shit that’s supposed to make life easier. I’ve got a stroller, I’ve got a backpack diaper bag, I’ve got two kids, and you’re just fucking walking in a wheeze with all this stuff. Yeah. So that’s kind of like the physical—and then for me now it’s just two kids by the hands going up the stairs of the school. You know, clomp, clomp, clomp, just getting up there to each class—you, your class; you, your class. And trying not to let them see too much of the distress that I’m going through and absorbing, because you know, they’re having a bad day too.
So, yeah, those of you planning families? That’s pretty much the shape of it. (Plus, if you’re a woman, you get to push a baby out of you!) Happy Father’s Day!