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It's no secret that Louie is more than a comedy. The show can range from the happily hilarious to the utterly depressing. So for this fourth season, we're going to plot each episode on "The Louie Scale" to figure out just how comedic or dramatic it was.

Louie has returned at the top of its game, as last night's episodes attest. Between "Back" and "Model" we were treated to the full spectrum of Louie's emotional arsenal. 

First, let's look at "Back." The season premiere was classic Louie – less an episode of television and more a momentary glimpse at a man's futile existence. The tragedies of "Back" are simple ones: being woken up by raucous and intrusive garbage men, writing a letter to AIDS, having an old lady hail a cab for you after straining your back picking out vibrators in a sex shop. And then there's this doozy from the doctor in Louie's building (played by Charles Grodin): "The back isn't done evolving yet. You see the spine is a row of vertebrae. It was designed to be horizontal, then people came along and used it vertical ... It could take another 20,000 years to get straightened out. Until then, it's going to keep hurting ... Accept the fact that you're back is going to hurt sometimes."

All of mankind using the spine incorrectly for thousands of years? That is brutal.


"Model" started out so promising, but you just knew disaster was going to strike. The second episode of the night had its initial rumblings of trouble – there was Louie showing up to a black-tie benefit in the Hamptons dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, earning the scorn of the ever-displeased Jerry Seinfeld – but what quickly followed were the blissful moments Louie spent with the beautiful astronaut's daughter (Yvonne Strahovski), laughing together in her car, on her beach. Could he really be so lucky?

Then this happened:


A sad metaphor for the entire episode: so close to beauty, Louie sabotaged by his own lack of grace. "Model" ended with the "violently ticklish" Louie having to pay an astronaut $5,000 a month after punching his daughter out (accidentally, of course) and permanently damaging her eye ("People are under the misconception that the rich can't sue the poor," Louie's lawyer said. "They can"). Now that's the heartbreaking Louie we know and love.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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