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Louie “Back”/”Model” Review (4×01/4×02)

6 May

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“Lots of stuff happens after you die. It’s just that none of it includes you.”

Louie has always been a simultaneously hilarious and a bit depressing, portraying a man pretty much just living his life, performing sets at the Comedy Cellar and taking care of his daughters and dealing with his myriad problems. In the fourth season premiere, it’s all about age, and from the show’s simplicity comes some rich, compelling television.

The structure of the two episodes are different, the first consisting of short vignettes and the second consisting of an extended sequence focusing on two interactions. Yet, they fit hand in hand, both emphasizing the sad state Louie’s in, emphasizing a common thread of not belonging. For example, the entire sequence at the Hamptons in “Model” is one in which Louie doesn’t belong; he’s on a completely different wavelength from the billionaires and trillionaires, from Jerry Seinfeld, from everyone except for Blake.

In fact, both episodes are filmed in a way that conveys a sense of haziness, of unreality. “Back” begins with manifestations of Louie’s imagination, most notably in the scene in which the garbage men break into his room and start banging away. The key thing to notice here is Louie’s face throughout: it’s a face of simple acceptance, of an inability and a lack of desire to do anything about the situation. He’s just hopelessly spinning around, looking for anything to bring him a quick moment of pleasure, but not actively looking to improve his life.

He certainly tries to give off the impression he’s doing something, attempting to instill some wisdom with his daughters and joking around with them. However, all they want him to do is to “do the Beatles”. The scene in which he’s walking down the street and going on about the backpack is excellent, made perfect by the fact that the other daughter takes the backpack and just carries it. It’s a simple, yet elegant, way of conveying both the themes of the episode and the nuances of his relationship with his daughters.

Some things are just meant to be, and there’s no use trying to mold them to your own tastes because they’ll wind up hurting you. This is very much the idea that Charles Grodin’s Dr. Bigelow tries to get across to Louie with his point about the horizontal vs. vertical backs, and the episode in general does a nice job of following Louie to a sex shop to a cab–with the help of an old lady–to his apartment, all the while nursing a hurting back.

Of course, this all culminates in a moving, unique, and darkly hilarious extended interaction that reminds me of Parker Posey’s Liz. I’m really impressed by Yvonne Strahovski here, who’s pitch perfect as the seemingly dream-like, but inherently human Blake. By bombing on stage at the Hamptons, Louie is allowed a glimpse into her life–more than a glimpse, even–but as with everything else, the pleasure is short-lived. It just doesn’t fit. Up until he slips and falls as he enters her house (a nice touch), she’s always shot from a distance, always blurry or hard to hear and see. Now, that’s reality.

Reality is Louie smiling at the end, happy because the waitress is now paying him attention. In this way, Blake merely becomes a stepping stone on the way back down, back to Louie in his natural state. He’s been slapped with a lawsuit that’ll hound him his whole life, but Jamie’s getting him a drink, and that’s all that matters right now.

Should he ever make his way back to that beach, we all know he’ll never be able to stay there.

GRADES: “Back” (B+), “Model” (A-)

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-You’re welcome:

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-“Dear AIDS, please cut it out.” If only this was the solution to every problem.

-We got to hear the words “Dogs having sex…with vagina dirt”.

-There’s also a bit of commentary on rich vs. poor and the idea of capitalism in these episodes.

-“I just keep pressing it.” “What, is it like a panini?”

-The poker games are always entertaining.

-Yeah, that Hamptons sequence is just a masterclass in cringe comedy. “Chickens are dumb” and “Martin Luther Chicken” are comedy gold.

-It’s been 19 months since the last episode. It was worth the wait.

-I’ll be covering the show all seven weeks. Join me. It’s one of my favorites, and I could probably make a case for it being the best show running right now.

Photo credit: FX, Louie

 

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One Response to “Louie “Back”/”Model” Review (4×01/4×02)”

  1. louisoc May 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Holy shit, I forgot a how fresh a breath of air this is; I would cover this show, but, as you can probably tell, I’m inundated with things to catch up on – keep this in your maybe pile for a crosstalk, I could write about Louie for hours.

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