This post contains spoilers through the third episode of the second season of Louie.
As someone who became a homeowner in the not insanely distant past, the prospect of watching Louis C.K. look at real estate for a half hour was sort of delightful. The rhapsodic myth of homeownership disguises an unpleasant fact: that most real estate is kind of terrible. There’s the dark apartment about which a realtor reels off a list of absolute untruths. There’s the theoretically empty apartment that turns out to be occupied by a widower in his underwear, so pathetic that the friend Louis’ enlisted into house hunting with him ends up cooking him eggs before declaring, “Thanks for the reminder, fellas. Fuck men. I’m Audi.” There were definitely days in my apartment search when, despite my incredibly kind, patient, realtor, I totally felt that, or a variation of that. Condo fees over $400 a month for a place where all the public doors have a sticky quality to them and the front yard looks downright dangerous? This is what we’re supposed to base a society on?
And then, there’s the moment when Louis finds an amazing apartment, old New York architecture, where Lenny Bruce used to live, where, as the realtor tells him in an increasingly hypnotic chant: “Your girls would be happy here. Even happier than they are at their mother’s house. And no one could judge you, or say you’re anything other than a wonderful, wonderful father. Buying this house would fix everything, everything, everything.” It also, of course, costs $17 million, and Louis has $7,000 in the bank and child support payments. “What about Obama?” he asks his accountant plaintively. “What about it?” his accountant asks back. It’s a wistful illustration of our common national dilemma, reconciling ourselves to the fact that the things we want are out of reach, and in reality, were always out of reach.
I have to admit, though, that as diverted as I was by the apartment hunt, the show’s depictions of women are sticking in my craw a little bit this season. As I wrote last week, I enjoy the fact that the program shows me the world through guy-colored glasses, but I’m a little worried that in the world of Louie, every woman I see through those glasses is kind of crazy, be she a passive-aggressive daughter, anxious pregnant sister, sexually traumatized PTA mom, or weird real estate pal.
I think the show is funniest when it gets at the cruelty of things that can really happen, which is why the stuff with Louis’ youngest daughter and her constant carping about the superiority of Louis’ ex-wife as a parent is both so hilarious and so cutting. But I’m not as amused by setting up a wildly baroque scenario, like a female friend starting to randomly cook and care for an old guy who isn’t wearing very many clothes. It’s not as funny in part because defaulting to “fuck men” as a punchline isn’t that funny. And I’m also just highly dubious that the vast majority of women would go into an apartment after they figured out a strange man was in there and undressed, much less immediately go into mother-hen mode over him. It feels like too much of a setup, and in a season with a lot of baroque setups coming at women’s expense, it feels like Louie could dial it back a bit.