TV Club

Louie Season 3 recap: Why did Louis C.K. defend Daniel Tosh?

C.K.’s sappy side—and his defense of Daniel Tosh.

still from "Louie."
Louie and Ramon

Courtesy FX Network.

I’m with you, Jonah: This was not a great episode of Louie. The generous reading would be to see the Ramon-Louie developments as rom-com parody. The ocean meet-cute that David described, the slightly awkward first date after Louie’s hotel gig, the stop whatever mundane thing you are doing and come with me right now spontaneity of the second—quickly devolving into that montage of colorful Latin people (Hispanics really know how to live!). The show might as well have slapped a sombrero on Louie and called him Katherine Heigl. And it didn’t appear to be satire. Perhaps the bike moment was meant as a jab at rom-com conventions, but the rest felt uncomfortably earnest, with pretty terrible dialogue—does C.K. write better for women than men?—and that awkwardly wedged-in bit of social commentary. (I’m pretty sure those glossy high-rise condos ARE real Miami.)

So, what went wrong? Gruff as he is, C.K. has always had a sappy side. The Afghanistan episode nearly went off the rails with that duckling-based cross-cultural exchange. And listening to C.K. talk about the day his first daughter was born once left me sobbing on the subway, nodding my head in agreement about the miracle of life. (This from a guy who talks like he would masturbate at his grandmother’s nursing home if given the opportunity.) There’s always been a tension between the Louie who looks at the world like it’s a big pile of dog shit he keeps stepping in, and the Louie who can’t believe how beautiful that shit can be.

Anyway, the episode wasn’t all bad. I loved that Louie was less turned-on than disgusted by all of the young hotties traipsing by him on the beach. (After all, he prefers women to girls.) And I loved that he was most at home on the beach at old-men-with-big-guts hour. What else would he do with a day in sunny Miami than hole up in his hotel room scarfing a massive room-service cheeseburger before passing out next to a plate of fries?

As for the debate you two have started about whether Louie wanted to sleep with Ramon or just be his friend, let me break the tie: Jonah’s right. When Louie couldn’t get his words out in that diner scene in Episode 1, it wasn’t because he didn’t know what to say or how to say it, it was because he wanted April to do the heavy lifting. No matter how bumbling our hero can be, I can’t envision a scenario in which he wouldn’t have just said to Ramon, “Hey, dude, I’m not gay! I just like hanging out with you, as friends,” if that’s how he felt. But that’s not how he felt! Did you catch that Louie blushed on the phone when his ex-wife not incorrectly guessed that he was staying in Miami because he “met someone”? He was smitten. And sitting at that bar, he was trying to figure out what “smitten,” in this case, meant. (Guys: Do you get boy-crushes the way we women talk about girl-crushes? Spill, please.) For the most part, I liked the scene, though after a while Louie’s umming and you-knowing and gesturing reminded me of Fred Armisen reading headlines on Weekend Update, and once that was in my head I couldn’t get it out.

C.K. obviously enjoys creating ambiguous situations—and pushing our buttons. Last week we had to consider whether what happened to Louie in a pickup truck was rape. And this week, C.K. inserted himself into another such debate,by tweeting support to fellow comedian Daniel Tosh after the latter caused an uproar by telling rape jokes at a comedy club. “@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes,” he tweeted. (Last week’s TV Club guest, Patton Oswalt, also sent out a tweet of solidarity, writing: “Wow, @danieltosh had to apologize to a self-aggrandizing, idiotic blogger. Hope I never have to do that (again).”) C.K.’s message in particular upset a lot of his fans, many of whom seem to think of him as the perfect guy: an enlightened, modern dad who can pull off cool glasses but would never use hair products.

He’s also a guy who clearly likes to back up fellow creative-types. He’s tweeted support for Tracey Morgan in the past, and more recently did the same for Lena Dunham—though later I heard him tell Bill Simmons that he’d actually only watched a few minutes of one episode of Girls, making me wonder if he’s one of those empty-cheerleader types who doles out compliments as a sort of power move. More likely, he just thinks that artists should never have to apologize—and that, for comedians in particular, no topic is “off-limits.” There’s no such thing as crossing the line, because there is no line.

Do you guys agree? I don’t think I do. Just as I don’t support a blanket shield law for journalists, I can’t buy into this idea that comedians are somehow above the law. I’m not suggesting Tosh be arrested. But what’s happening to him is what should be happening. He fucked up, lots of people got mad, we’re all talking it through, and he may lose some fans—but probably not because most of the mad people never liked him anyway. And now we wait for the next controversy. Do we really need Louis C.K. to moderate such a well-oiled process?

Anyway, on to Episode 4! Oh, and I’m sorry for using the word “tweet” so often in this post. Times are tough.

Yours without balloon insight,