This post contains spoilers through the Sept. 8 episode of Louie.
This episode began with an expression of the world’s miraculousness, as Louis C.K. explains why his daughters wake him up so early in the morning “I get it, they want to share with me. ‘Daddy, look, it’s all still here!'” But as the rest of the show explains, sometimes life is not that mysterious and delightful. And sometimes the things you feel most sharply and clearly are shattering rather than elevating.
First, Louis succumbs to the temptation to hang out after a successful gig on the testimony of, quite literally, a random guy on the street who tells him he has a moral obligation to hang around and reap the sexual benefits of his funniness. Almost immediately, it becomes too complicated to be fun. “Can I get a shot?” he asks the bartender, who asks him what kind, and when he says whiskey, demands that he specify a brand. “Just, please, brown liquid that makes people feel differently than if they didn’t drink it,” he asks plaintively. The sheer number of signaling preferences you’re supposed to have as an adult makes the fact that you can legally do things like drink alcohol less funny and breezy than they ought to be.
Of course, Louis goes from that simple setup a hugely complicated one, ending up stranded in Jersey after walking away from a threesome. Though when Chris Rock is your emergency pickup (even if his wife is declaring in the background, “I told you to stop being friends when you got divorced. You can’t trust divorced people.”), life can’t be that bad. Still, Rock lectures Louie, reminding him of the folly of the latter half of his evening. “I’m not taking you to the city at 2 o’clock in the morning because you had to look at some crazy woman’s vagina,” he reminds his friend. “That’s not how I plan my life.” Part of being an adult is the moment when you stop telling yourself that certain things are fun.
Among those things? Unrequited love. Louis’ already confessed his love to Pamela, but he revisits that same futile well when he drives her to the airport only to find out that her ticket to Paris is one way, because as she tells him “I’m going to Paris to make it work with my kid’s dad, and I’m not coming back…I’m not attracted to you. Why do you keep making me say mean things to you.” But hope springs eternal, and there’s something powerfully understandable about watching Louis watch her walk away and be lifted up when he mishears her instruction to wave to her as Pamela asking him to wait for her. Our willful self-delusions can be powerfully sustaining if we’re not forced to confront them too harshly. Or maybe it’s just that it’s not a great idea to get into a car with a random woman, no matter how much you want a peek at her lady-bits, a lesson that the women in Louis’ audience have long known, even if it’s sadly funny to watch him learn it for himself.