I relate to Louie on an almost frightening level. At 34, I occupy the exact middle ground between the 42 year-old C.K and a hot 26 year-old at the comedy club who seduces the comic because she’s got a fetish for men who aren’t just older but old. Needless to say, I identified a whole lot more with C.K than the striking young woman who tells C.K she’s attracted to him because, in sharp contrast to energetic, pink and shiny men her own age, “You’ve given up, which makes you grounded. Your skin is loose and a little dry and you smell weird.”
When C.K asks what he smelled like she replied, with just the right note of borderline-creepy intensity, “like dying.” Back at C.K’s apartment, the young woman gets off on the manifestations of C.K’s advanced age, deriving orgasmic glee from C.K telling her that he voted for Mike Dukakis (“I don’t even know who that is!” she squeals obliviously), that he remembers smoking on airplanes and that he’s older than all but one current baseball players.
Marc Maron used to have a bit about reaching the age when he became invisible to attractive young women, when he stopped being a sexual creature or a possibility and became part of the scenery. The hilarious first short tonight offered the inverse of that dynamic, though it was, in its own way, just as humiliating. C.K wasn’t about to turn down sex, especially from a woman who crows that of course she smells good; “young pussy always smells good” but it can’t be a good feeling knowing that you’re being singled out because a woman has daddy issues or is an old man fetishist, not because of your charm or looks.
Louie is about the ravages of age and the difficulty of trying to recreate yourself as a dynamic single man after wasting your peak years of attractiveness stuck in a dying, failing marriage. And it makes that incredibly depressing subject matter both relatable and funny. Though much of what C.K’s conquest told him tonight felt like it could have been taken from a dream or tongue-in-cheek sexual fantasy it had a certain ring of emotional truth about it.
Who hasn’t felt like a relic from a bygone era after they leave their twenties? It boggles my mind to think that there are dynamic young people out there who grew up in a world where the Cold War was something you read about in history books and can barely conceive of a pre-Internet era.
On “Young Americans”, David Bowie sings one of my all-time favorite lyrics: “We live for just these twenty years. Do we have to die for the fifty more?” Louie is fundamentally concerned with the fifty years after we’re young and attractive.
That forms the core of the second short film, a casual slice-of-life comedy-drama about C.K arranging a play-date for his daughter with the progeny of Pamela Adlon, C.K’s wife on Lucky Louie and a Consultant on Louie. As the product of a single father, I could certainly relate to C.K’s confusion and mild irritation at being hailed for being a great father simply for not being terribly negligent.
The short film echoes a persistent theme in C.K’s stand-up: how the standards for single fatherhood have gotten so low that dads are hailed to the heavens simply for being there, for showing up and being a presence in their child’s life. In a stand-up bit, C.K marvels that saying he has daughters gets applause, as if fatherhood in itself was an accomplishment worthy of celebration.
Adlon tags along with her child on the aforementioned playdate, which threatens to become a real date when she gets a little tipsy on wine and confesses her darkest parental secret, that she sometimes fantasizes about hitting her son not when he’s being bad or making her angry but because she’s bored.
This isn’t played for shock but rather as the kind of dark but ultimately harmless thought that helps someone get through the intensity and pressure of being a single parent. I don’t know whether Adlon will return but she makes for a terrific foil for C.K with her brutal honesty and blue-collar brassiness.
As an old man myself and the son of a single father, I related almost too much to tonight’s episode. It hit awfully close to home, which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a television show in ages. Louie captures life as it is lived, then spiffs it up to make it funny and observant and poignant, all without sacrificing its low-key absurdist charm.