We’re counting down the Top 10 TV Comedies of 2012 on our Tumblr this week. Number 2 is Louie. There is no better gif in the world than this one, but we already made this pretty art, so we’ve committed. Sorry about that.
That last little set of shows in Season 3 of Louie is art. It’s funny, but it belongs in a museum somewhere, next to a Warhol and a modern art video of a guy kicking a can down the road and all of that other stuff in frames that has helped us figure out who we are as people.
It’s basically a tiny movie—a three-part, 65-minute episode that has Louie wondering if he should supplant David Letterman just because he can. He’s being lined up for the job after propelling into fame over night. He has to tell his ex-wife, and he wants her to tell him he’s stupid for taking it. She tells him the opposite.
Louie is about that: It’s his attempt to cater to the expectations of other people who didn’t expect anything from him at all. Life, as it happens, is about that as well.
Anyway—spoiler alert—it doesn’t work out, because nothing really does on Louie. The episode after that, even worse things happen. The only love interest on the show that gives Louie a chance (the slightly transcendent Parker Posey) floats about until she stops existing entirely.
To deal with it, he just drops everything and flies to China, like you’ve always threatened under your breath.
That’s the thing about this show. It will mirror your life exactly. Then it will realize your wildest fantasies in your most vulnerable moments. It will make sense of your failures.
David Lynch guest starred in those episodes, by the way, and you could certainly sense his presence all throughout the show. He’s imposing like that. This should’ve complicated things immensely. It did the opposite.
This is a comedy show that felt like Twin Peaks for three episodes and it actually made the show better. Think about that.
Since the parallels are easy, a lot of critics say this is the Seinfeld of this century. Both are comedians at their peaks trying to tell the truth about themselves.
This is not our Seinfeld. Seinfeld lived in a box impervious to the true stresses of everyday life. There was no genuine quest for identity seeking, there was no custody finagling, there was no worry that rent would genuinely not get paid. All of that is in Louie, and some of that is rattling around in the heads of all of us right now.
We don’t have the option to drop everything and go to China. Characters on TV shows have the option to drop everything and go to China for us, just to show us what it would look like. Louie’s not just good. Louie’s important.