June 29th, 2012
11:25 AM ET
Comedian Louis C.K. is having a good week.
He just sold over 100,000 tickets to his upcoming stand-up comedy tour on his own terms in less than 2 days, and this wasn’t his first successful sell-it-yourself experiment. Late last year, he sold downloads to his comedy special “Live at the Beacon” for $5 on his website, paving the way for fellow comedians Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan. He earned over $1 million in just 12 days.
But before he completely upended the stand-up comedy industry, C.K. forged a revolutionary path in television. On Thursday, his bizarre, stunningly creative and indisputably singular FX comedy returned with its third season premiere.
Season 2 of “Louie” was so universally revered that it feels as though season 3 couldn't possibly live up to such impossible expectations. But what makes “Louie” so remarkable is the same thing that immunizes it from standard TV criticism. How can we set expectations when we have no idea what to expect?
Thursday's season 3 opener was a charmingly languid episode (though it contained 2 breakups and a motorcycle accident) that tackled one of C.K.’s favorite subjects - masculinity. And it was as boldly original as ever.
April realized that he wanted to break up with her, but didn’t have the guts to actually dump her. So she broke up with herself (spectacularly).
During the 17 seconds she designated for silence, Louie looked longingly at his ice cream, spoon in hand. When she left, he let out a great sigh of relief before digging in.
He returned to his car just in time to watch a bulldozer smash it. So he did what any sensible father of two in his mid-40s would do - he bought a motorcycle. He zoomed all over New York City, nearly projecting the youthful, carefree image of himself he clearly had in his mind. Until a raucous motorcycle gang popping wheelies brought him back down to Earth - literally. He lost control of his bike, fell off and crashed into a truck.
During his interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast - and if you haven’t listened to that interview, stop reading! And go listen! Immediately! - he described getting into a similar accident years ago. Like his character on the show, his injuries, while pathetic, weren’t serious.
Louie called his ex-wife Janet (who we saw on-screen for the first time) to explain what happened. After hanging up, she shouted, "a**-necked idiot! What the hell you doing on a motorcycle?" I love her already.
Later, April dropped by Louie’s apartment to pick up her laptop and was alarmed to find him in such a pitiable state. He explained, "I got hit by a truck." It wasn’t quite a lie, more a clever inversion of the truth. Technically, he’s the one who hit the truck.
April helped him and was about to leave when Louie asked her to stay, propelling her into another speech. “For the sake of future me and future you, you could save yourself another divorce - and years of false living - if you could just be a man in this one moment. And say to me, 'April, thank you for helping me.' You know? Have a good one. See you sometime.”
When she stormed out of the apartment, Louie was once again flooded with relief. Yes, he’s weak, but he knows that. Louie is so flawed, so painfully, vividly human. But his acute self-awareness renders even his most pathetic moments palatable.
Heading into this season, the only thing we can be sure of is that “Louie” will surprise us, never more than with how it makes us feel. And that's why it’s the most exciting show on TV.
What did you think of last night’s season premiere?
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