Louie “So Did the Fat Lady”/ “Elevator Part 1” Review (4×03/4×04)

13 May


“Look, if you were over there, looking at us, what you’d see is that we’re a perfect match.”

There’s always been an emotional truth to Louie, an honesty that’s truly a marvel to watch unfold; CK is a masterful writer, whether it be for a cringe-worthy comedic scene or a serious, genuine conversation like the one we get at the end of “So Did the Fat Lady”, and here, he continues to craft what is looking like an excellent season.

Much of the show thus far has been dedicated to portraying a floundering Louie, one who can’t sustain a relationship or any kind of genuine emotional connection. The moments he has are fleeting–a dream, if you will–like the scenario we saw last week in “Model”; yet, while that episode was about him willing to take on responsibilities like the lawsuit for the rest of his life, just to get with the woman way out of his league, “So Did the Fat Lady” is about him unwilling to sacrifice any part of himself to be with the woman who’s just right for him.

How much is he actually sacrificing, though? What he “loses” is the result of societal values, of a perceived sense of beauty that our culture has in place. Simply put, many people just don’t view fat people as attractive, and while that’s certainly their prerogative, it’s also a problem in society when we–especially the media–perpetuate a certain sense of beauty as being the “right” one. Of course, Louis CK isn’t one to make grand, over-arching statements about society; he’s merely trying to reflect brutal honesty and to reflect what we see and feel, and sometimes, this leads to discussion of bigger issues.

Now, the episode certainly isn’t as nuanced as it could’ve been, but the center stage for Vanessa is intentional. Here’s a woman who’s clearly charming, funny, and interesting, and she’s doing well for herself. She doesn’t need Louie, but she’s interested in him, and not finding success with him isn’t going to do anything to damage her psyche. In fact, when he tells her she’s not fat, that’s what strikes deepest, what hurts the most; basically, we’ve been under the assumption that fat=wrong, so we view reassurance as support.

Of course, Louie isn’t necessarily wrong; he just isn’t able to see the situation like Vanessa does until she tells him about it. For example, it’s similar to how he doesn’t seem to notice Amia right away in “Elevator Part 1”: he’s a guy who can’t see what’s been right in front of him this whole time. This idea plays into both his interactions with Amia’s aunt in the elevator (played by Ellen Burstyn) and the harrowing subway sequence involving Jane, as the aunt seems to be like Jane in the future. Louie instills in his daughter–scares her, even–the idea of not being alone, of the harsh reality of the situation and the fact that it’s very far from a dream. The show perfectly captures the frantic nature of the entire sequence here.

“Elevator Part 1” seems like mostly set up, even as good as it is, but the end of “So Did the Fat Lady” is definitely what’s going to resonate with me the most. Sarah Baker nails it here as the woman who just wants to be honest, who really likes Louie and wants him to know who she is and what she thinks. There’s a sad aspect to it all, but there’s also the other side to that.

For, as Louie and Vanessa walk hand in hand away from us, we understand. Louie understands. So does the fat lady.

GRADES: “So Did the Fat Lady” (A), “Elevator Part 1” (B+)


-Wow, an uncensored f-word on basic cable. I was very surprised to hear that, but also happy, because we’re way too uptight about language in this country. That’s what the TV-MA is for, folks. Kudos to FX for doing the right thing there, because bleeping the word out would be just plain wrong at that moment.

– “Shit. Shit. Shit.” “Don’t swear in front of your children!” “Shit. Shit.”

-I could not do a Bang Bang, but I do want to try. No, I don’t. Anyway, that storyline also ties in nicely with the image and weight themes that permeate the episode, and the scene in which they gawk at all the fit women walking by them on the street is hilarious.

– “Here’s to you, Mrs. Pee-pee Face.” I’m using that from now on.

-Great directorial choice to focus on Vanessa’s face during the monologue. However, I do want an alternate version to the episode that just focuses on Louie’s uncomfortable facial expressions.

-Hadley Delany and Ursula Parker are once again magnificent.

-Here’s an excellent article by Libby Hill about “So Did the Fat Lady”: http://www.avclub.com/article/fat-woman-talking-louie-starts-necessary-conversat-204504

Avoid the comments section.

-Well, here we go. Six-episode “Elevator” arc. Looking forward to what the show will do with it.

Photo credit: FX, Louie

2 Responses to “Louie “So Did the Fat Lady”/ “Elevator Part 1” Review (4×03/4×04)”

  1. JustMeMike May 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Nice Review PB –

    A wee background – I have watched many of Louis CK’s comedy specials, and other performances. But I have not seen ANY of the series.Until last week and today.

    So I have a sum total of four episodes from the series.I noticed your post this morning but declined to read it until I watched the shows.

    I’m still on the fence about the series. I expected to laugh and laugh. But this is different very different. The humor is apparent only if you think about what you are watching and what it all means. These are not one-liners or absurd characters like Seinfeld’s creations – Costanza, Kramer, and Benes.

    These folks seem way more normal. Which means that the comedy works only if I work at thinking about.

    I wonder why Louis is hanging around on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Banjara’s is on lower First Avenue. But Louis lives on the Upper West side off Riverside Drive. I did enjoy the Indian meal. And I liked the circling camera work.

    And So Did the Fat Lady – Louis is laying out that fat woman are denigrating by society no matter what else they have going for them. A good point for sure. Louis will make a lot of fans with that – especially if there’s a story arc involved. But I can’t see Louis yielding the spotlight for so Long.

    The second essiode was far less positive, at least for me. It seemed that Louis played upon the Old Lady’s fears and connected that to the niece who didn’t speak English. I think this episode has a better chance for success if it continues in an arc (for Louie the character and Louie the writer) than does the fat woman.arc.


    • polarbears16 May 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

      You should definitely check out the rest of the series; it’s brilliant, in my opinion. It’s definitely not the kind of show I was expecting going in, but it’s become one of my favorites. There’s also quite a bit of hilarious stuff in those other episodes.

      Yeah, the fat woman arc was just a standalone episode, and it probably works better that way. It’s basically this self-contained, lyrical sequence of events that culminates in that moment at the end.

      I agree; the second episode definitely was less positive/about fear, which also tied into the subway sequence at the beginning.

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