Summer is here, well it’s here for most of the country, summer won’t arrive in Seattle till after July 4th if it arrives at all. Weather aside there is one thing summer brings across the US to all cities, and that is the lack of good television shows.
Just like our nations school children when May and June roll around most television seems to end and the summer crap begins, until the fall when the regular shows return and our nights are once again spent with our eyeballs glued to a screen.
Having not worked in television, I don’t have the real answer for why the arrival of summer is the standard break for tv. My guess however is that Summer is supposed to be a time for families to travel, when children are out of school and staying out late and playing baseball, when the natural order of things shift and television no longer becomes a priority. This is when the networks have decided to give their regular shows a break and inundate us with crap they found laying around the editing room floor and reruns.
I am not a slave to the television schedule as I don’t have cable (not even basic), though I am on some kind of Netflix schedule. For those of you mourning the loss of your shows there is a cure.
Arguably one of the best shows no matter what season it’s in. Louie created by comedian Louis C.K. is hard to describe to someone who either A. is not familiar with C.K.’s humor or B. expects a television comedy to be a laugh riot. One part Seinfeld, one part Curb Your Enthusiasm, and one part gritty indie film. The humor is often dark and sometimes difficult to figure out just where it’s going, but crafted with an expert hand.
The “Louie” character navigates his life full of absurdist humor, simple observations, and arguments with existence. Occasionally the first go around of an episode will leave you confused and it won’t be until the second viewing that the episode clicks for you and suddenly you realize why the first fifteen minutes of the episode were spent focusing on a horrifying depiction of a doctor brought in s catholic school graphically demonstrating just how Jesus was crucified.
Each episode exists in its own reality and there is little or no story continuity and it doesn’t seem to follow any familiar story structure. A splicing together of short vignettes of story, performances in night clubs, conversations with his therapist, and discussions with his friends (who are all notable New York comics). This all seems like a recipe for disaster but in the hands of the ultra talented and passionate Louie C.K. it really sets itself apart as something special.
The show is written, directed, produced, acted, and even edited by C.K. Where normally I would see those credits and immediately cast him aside as an egomaniac who refuses to let others touch his precious product. Louie does it all out of passion and necessity, the pilot was put together on just a $200,000 budget.
My love for the show comes from my identification with Louie. He often seems to go through life awkwardly not quite knowing what to say to people in conversation or other social situations. He makes choices that appear to make little sense to outside observers but total sense to him. He’s a good person but can come off as a complete asshole.
I often feel like that, I suspect that most people can feel that way too and to see a character who embodies that life is refreshing. Louie is a show that takes all the little moments of Louis C.K.’s life and exploits them in brief little hilarious and brilliant moments. This is not just a show that makes you laugh, it truly makes you think.
You can catch Louie when those summer nights have got you down, every Thursday at 10:30 on FX.