The Bottom Line
- Creative approach to mixing narrative and stand-up
- Very funny no-holds-barred humor from Louis C.K.
- Gritty, cinematic visual style
- Narrative threads can feel disconnected
- Some repetitiveness in the humor
- Premieres June 29, 2010, at 11 p.m. EST on FX
- Starring Louis C.K.
- Created by Louis C.K.
Guide Review - 'Louie' Premiere Episodes
Like early episodes of Seinfeld, Louie mixes snippets of C.K. performing stand-up with narrative segments in which he essentially plays himself, a middle-aged, divorced father of two daughters. Unlike Seinfeld, though, Louie is less a sitcom than a series of unconnected vignettes; C.K. himself is the only regular character, and events in one segment don’t necessarily connect to events in another. The show was created like a series of indie short films, with C.K. as writer, director, producer, editor and star, and as such the style is a little grittier and more off-kilter than you’d expect from a comedy TV series.
That’s mostly a good thing, though, as it allows C.K. to go to some pretty dark places in his explorations of life after divorce, the horrors of aging and the meager rewards of being an engaged parent. This is not a light show by any means, and unlike Lucky Louie, which had at its heart a sort of affection for corny old-school sitcoms, Louie pulls no punches and refuses to flinch at uncomfortable truths about life. If you aren’t willing to laugh at the looming specter of death or the failures of the American public-school system, then this isn’t the show for you.
But C.K. does a great job of making those and other morbid topics hilarious, and uses his relentless pessimism as a jumping-off point for hilarious riffs and inspired sketches. The disjointed nature of the show may get frustrating after a while (or things may eventually start connecting), but over the course of the first four episodes, it’s more than enough that almost all of the bits are genuinely funny.