Tuned In

The Morning After: Louie and Joan, Sitting in a Tree

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As I’ve said, I’m trying to scale back on the weekly episode reviews here at Tuned In, and I’ve said a great deal already about Louis C.K. and this season of Louie. But we’ve come to the last of the four episodes of the show that I saw in advance, so it’s a good time to check in on how you all are liking the season (which has very healthily increased its ratings, albeit from a low starting point).

On the one hand, “Joan” was probably my least favorite of the first four episodes, as an episode. There were some great moments between Louie and Joan Rivers, but the whole business of comedians talking about what it is to be a comedian was a little too speechy to work dramatically for me. And yet it was also an excellent example of how intriguing and inventive even less-stellar episodes of Louie can be.

Because when you think about it, who even does this? How many shows would consider this as the structure of an episode of television? A comic goes onstage, has a bad night, sees another comedian’s show and then they have a long talk about their business, what’s funny and how you make this life work. So far this season, we’ve seen four episodes that were four very different kinds of show: a profane farce about family that ended with a fart joke; a duo of short films about sex and death; a single, bittersweet story about real estate as a metaphor for love and self-worth; and a Socratic dialogue about the comedy business.

I could entirely see “Joan” being someone else’s favorite episode of Louie; in its own way, it had the show’s signature mix of rude laughs and heart. It wasn’t mine but I do love the show’s commitment to the idea that anything can be an episode—anything, as long as it sustains Louis C.K.’s own interest in its show. And that in turn keeps my interest. This is just a special, sui generis kind of TV show, and I feel lucky we’re able to see it.

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