photo courtesy of FX Networks.com

photo courtesy of FX Networks.com

By Matt DeRenzo – Contributing Writer

The FX television show Louie has been going through a transitional period in its current season.  The show is consistently focusing less on getting laughs from their viewers, but focusing more on having a consistent narrative with multiple dramatic turns.  There have been countless episodes that focused on one storyline flowing throughout multiple episodes.  This forms a way for the audience to become more engaged in characters in the show, instead of having constant jokes all throughout the episode.  The main question that I  focus on is: “Is Louie still funny?”

The most recent episodes of Louie have been based on grim and philosophically powerful topics such as the search for love, the meaning of sanity and past regrets. It is obvious the writer, director, producer and lead actor of the show, Louis C.K. does not intend to write a simple goofy comedy, but instead focus on the complexities of life while adding naturalistic comedic situations.  The comedy inLouie is shown as simply part of the world surrounding the main character of Louie.  The jokes aren’t shoehorned in randomly; the comedy comes from Louie’s everyday situations.

The most prominent storyline in this season so far unravels over six episodes and is about Louie’s relationship with a Hungarian woman that can only speak a few words in English.  Louie meets this Hungarian woman after the aunt that lives in his apartment, is trapped in the elevator and he tries to help her out. After spending a couple days together Louie starts to fall in love with her, but Louie is told by her aunt that she has to go home to Hungary where her family lives, Louie is so blind with love he does not take this fact into consideration and desperately asks her not to leave.  These set of episodes follows Louis C.K.’s character trying to have a romantic relationship with a person that in actuality would be incredibly hard to have a full-fledged relationship with.  These set of episodes focus less on the comedy of this situation but the drama.  The story about Louie’s love obsession with this Hungarian mother is told in a respectful way that makes you understand and empathize with the character.  His relationship is told in a lovingly realistic manner without any forceful comedic situations.

The outright comedy that does occur in these series of episodes is very dark and grim.  There are news broadcasts occurring throughout these episodes that report about a hurricane that is heading for New York City.  These fake news reports are done in an outrageously exaggerated fashion.  Newscasters casually describe how large groups of people are dying all throughout the city during the hurricane without a hint of exaggeration or sarcasm in their voices.  These Newscasters use nonsense words such as “thrumbledinoozide dollars” and referring to the weather-caster as a “weather guy.”  You can’t help but laugh at these nonsensically, unsympathetic newscasters reporting on unbelievably, horrible news stories about death and destruction.

The past seasons of Louie have always dealt with dark humor, but never to this extent.  The humor in the fourth and current season is being done in a more realistic fashion that flows within the narrative of an episode.  In past seasons of Louie, the comedic situations have at times felt forced and unbalanced; with only the objective of getting a laugh.  Such as a scene in season one after Louie performs a show in Birmingham, Alabama. A fan asks for a kiss but gets enraged from Louie’s refusal, a cop who asks for him, saves him at the right time. I still thought this scene was tremendously funny, but looking back it really did not add any value to the show.

Throughout season four, Louis C.K. has obviously grown as a writer, director and actor.  He has been taking enormous chances with his show, and for the most part it has been working.  He still adds enough comedy to the show to keep it from being entirely grim and depressing, without having forceful random humor that does not add anything to the story.  Louie is one of the most challenging shows on television right now.  Louis C.K.’s show makes us question our own inadequacies and social conventions and makes us realize the humor in dark situations.  Hopefully, Louie will continue to push the envelope not only as a comedy but as a drama.