In its previous three seasons, Louie has turned from an acclaimed yet small sitcom into a cultural icon and propelled comedian Louis C. K. into superstardom. While there are plenty of great comedians working today, Louis C. K. is easily the best and Louie is also the strongest comedy on television today. It’s been over about a year and a half since we’ve last seen Louie, and I was worried what was left for Louie could prove, particularly after the “Late Show” trilogy of episodes (which starred David Lynch after all). Fortunately, Louie is as funny as ever and makes a well-welcome return, showing that Louis C. K.’s got much in store for his fans.
Season 4 of Louie, which will air two of its fourteen episodes each night, has high standards to reach after the series’ second and third years, but “Back” and “Model” show that Louie’s in no senior slump (“Model” in particular is one of the series’ finest episodes). Both new episodes show that Louie’s still the same; he’s weary, tired, and often rejected and taunted by outsiders. In “Back,” an awkward visit to a sex shop causes Louie to pull his back and, in an ironic act of heroism, an old lady calls a cab for him so he can visit a doctor. The stakes are higher in “Model” where Jerry Seinfeld asks Louie to open for him at a heart disease benefit in the Hamptons, though Seinfeld requests for Louie to keep his comedy act clean. Struggling to write appropriate jokes, Louie bombs his opening monologue, but finds solace in one woman, who quickly invites the comedian over to her place.
What makes Louie so great is that it’s equal parts drama as it is comedy. Louie suffers through a series of misfortune and bitterness (a theme surely inspired by Seinfeld itself, as Louie shares much in common with George Constanza, who similarly finds himself humiliated in any given situation), but he’s also a sympathetic protagonist instead of the butt of a joke. Louie’s a good father and always takes attentive care of his daughters. He doesn’t lash or beat out others, nor is he an angry figure. We care about Louie because he’s a loveable loser, a Charlie Brown if you will. Added to that Louis C. K.’s graceful performance, making his eponymous character a symbol for the everyday man, who continues to move no matter what befalls upon him. And Louis C. K. has never sold out the spirit of the show, still retaining the creative reigns and authority of Louie. Cringe-worthy comedy has rarely, if ever, been better.