The 'Louie' Scale: 'This is Real. Bad Things Happen.'

Between the end of "So Did The Fat Lady" and the opening of "Elevator Part 1," Louie reminded us how crushing life can be sometimes. 

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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.

Sarah Baker, ladies and gentlemen. The end of "So Did The Fat Lady" wasn't perfect, but if it didn't wreck you on some basic emotional level, then I just don't know.

The episode opens with Louie turning Baker's Vanessa down when she asks him out – a complete flip from the start of the previous episode "Model," which saw Louie as the one being rejected. A couple of scenes follow, including one where Louie and his brother Robbie go on a "bang-bang" where they eat two meals back-to-back (in this case: Indian/diner). Eventually, he agrees to go out with Vanessa. There are a few funny lines, like the bit about "dating" versus "trying," but it's Baker's final monologue that simply crushes. "What is it about the basics of human happiness – you know, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us – that's just not in the cards for us?" she asks a bewildered, speechless Louie. And Louie's inability to do anything for minutes that feel like weeks just adds to the whole thing.

There are reasons it doesn't work perfectly: "To me, the entire monologue was heavy-handed and aimless, relying too much on tropes of fat girl-ness," Danielle Henderson writes for Vulture. Libby Hill at AV Club says similar: "On first viewing, the ending is pat, almost condescending." But both agree that at least Louie, and CK by extension, is willing to have this conversation.

"So Did The Fat Lady"

Last night's hour of Louie didn't let up: the second episode brought another emotional wallop, this time featuring Louie's daughters. Jane wakes up screaming from a nightmare at the start of "Elevator Part 1," but she's convinced that she's still dreaming, even when Louie rushes in to calm her down. Later that morning on the subway, Jane jumps off the train just as the doors close, leaving her father and sister trapped inside the 6 train. What follows are three of the most tense minutes of television this year, capped off by Louie yelling at Jane (who ends up being fine): "This is not a dream. Jane. It's not a dream. This is real. People get hurt, it's a dangerous world. Kids get stolen and they disappear, forever, Jane. This is real. bad things happen."


Those six words might be the purest distillation yet of what Louie is all about.

The rest of the episode served mainly to set up what will become a six-episode arc. Louie comes back to his apartment building to find Ellen Burstyn stuck in the elevator, and decides to help her out. Fetching her medication from her apartment, Louie finds her sleeping niece, whom Burstyn's character asks him to wake. How exactly are you supposed to wake a sleeping stranger? He does, eventually, and before he can explain himself she attacks him, chasing him out of the apartment. She eventually comes up to his apartment with pie to apologize, and that's pretty much it.

But that sweat-inducing, panicked subway scene, phew.

"Elevator Part 1"

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