Louie is a semi-autobiographic comedy show written by, directed by and starring stand-up comedian Louis C.K., shown on FX.Typically following Louie performing stand up (similarly to Seinfeld), the episode also delves into a fiction version of his real life with his daughters, and is set to a mostly dry soundtrack (or silence) and no Laugh Track. Most episodes have two unrelated stories, and some of the material is either somewhat surreal or similar to his Youtube material, but overall the show gives the impression of being fairly true to life.Somewhat similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie features no laugh track and most of the humor is derived from excruciatingly awkward or painful situations; however, it doesn't really carry season arcs beyond the occasional link or two, and each episode half can be seen on it's own. Occasionally, the show delves into more serious topics (like S1E11 "God") which are more about significant experiences in Louis C.K.'s life that made him who he is.Following the third season, the show went on an extended hiatus so CK could recharge his creative batteries, finally returning for its fourth season in May 2014.
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Ability over Appearance: Louie's ex-wife, Janet is played by African American Susan Kelechi Watson; Louis has even confirmed that he chose the actress not only because it humorously ignores how they have completely Caucasian children, but because he felt her being perfect for the role took priority. Confusing matters further, in a flashback in "Elevator Part 4", she's played by a white actress.
Lampshaded in "Pamela Part 3" when the title character asks about the kids; Janet's mother is white. Pamela did not accept the explanation.
Adult Fear: A couple of thugs are following you? Scary. A couple of thugs catch up to you and start threatening your children? Terrifying.
"Elevator (Part 1)" touches on the very real fear of being separated from one's child for a lengthy period of time in a public setting. Louis is with his kids in a subway car when Jane, believing herself to still be in a dream, decides to walk away from Louie and Lilly as the doors are closing. Frantic, Louis yells for someone to stop the train while Jane assuredly yells at him that she will stay exactly in place until Louis comes to find her. From there, we follow Louis and Lilly as they're forced to ride the train to the next stop, get onto a different train to take them back to Jane, and sprint from the subway station to Jane's location across the street. Meanwhile, at one point, Jane is approached by a man, and the audience isn't sure if he'll take her away from her spot or not. When Louis finally reaches Jane, it offers a moment of relief and sadness, as Louis proceeds to yell at and shake Jane, admonishing her for acting so irresponsibly (leading her to cry). The action is rough to watch, but completely understandable for any parent scared to death of a similar situation happening to them and their kids.
Aerith and Bob: There is a student in one of Louie's girls' class named Never.
Louie's uncle Excelsior, played by F. Murray Abraham.
An Aesop: Episodes will carry morals on occasion, such as the importance of neighbors in "Pregnant."
All Love Is Unrequited: Louie and Pam, who even turns him down when he vents how much he loves Pam. Even taken to the extreme in the Season 2 finale when she leaves with Serge and tells him they can't be together, only for Louie to later mishear her shouting "Wave to me!" as "Wait for me!" as she heads into the airport.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Louie's list of things it would be weird to start doing after age 40 include getting into fights, sucking other guys' dicks, and skiing.
As Himself: Louie obviously, but Todd Barry, Nick Di Paolo and a few other stand-up comedians appear as themselves.
The most notable real-life cameos from the second season are Joan Rivers, Dane Cook, and Chris Rock.
The third season Late Show arc brings us Jay Leno, Chris Rock again, and, briefly, Susan Sarandon and Paul Rudd as guests during Louie's test show. Fellow stand-ups Maria Bamford and Sarah Silverman also made a few appearances each earlier in the season.
Author Appeal: "Come On, God" and "Duckling" both featured Louie hitting on (and getting rejected by) "good Christian girls". Maybe he's just attracted to women who would never sleep with him.
Also he tends to fantasize about and lust after mostly blondes (Pamela being the major exception).
Also the ending of "Eddie." Eddie finally confides that he's doing one more show and killing himself. Eddie also admits he visited Louie because he was his only friend, and Louie eventually accepts that he can't stop him and says goodbye.
One episode even has Louie's sister, who previously miscarried her baby (and was so devastated her marriage fell apart) suffering severe abdominal pains in the night, and is rushed to hospital screaming about how she thinks her baby is dying; upon reaching the hospital and following the episode aesop, however, it turns out her pain was just wind pains from a huge fart.
In universe, one episode has Louie pitching a movie. His idea is an entire movie of Humiliation Conga and Despair Event Horizon. The producer ditches him during a lunch date as soon as possible.
Black Comedy Rape: While at a dentist's appointment, Louie find himself under the influence of some laughing gas. He has hallucination of being fed a banana by the dentist. As he comes out of his hallucination, the audience can see the dentist zipping his pants back up....
Brother-Brother Incest: Louie's brother Robbie tries to rope him into a threeway with a girl he's been seeing (she claims that a single guy won't get her horny).
Bumbling Dad: Louie loves his daughters, and claims to be good at dealing with them, but his interactions with them can evoke this trope from time to time.
Calling the Old Bag Out: Louie's mom comes out as a lesbian. Louie is more concerned with his mom's really cruel neglectful behavior in the past, all of which she handwaves. Finally, he lets her have it with both barrels.
Mom: Don't you want to hear about how I met my wife?
The Cast Showoff: The season 3 episode "Dad" opens with a minute-long sequence of Ursula Parker, the little girl who plays Louie's younger daughter Jane, flawlessly playing the violin. Of course the music is cut off by Louie yanking the instrument out of her hands and yelling at her to go do her homework.
That same episode, Ursula Parker shows off her fluency in Slovenian.
Celebrity Paradox: For the most part, almost every recognizable comedian showing up on the show is playing as themselves... and then we have Amy Poehler playing as Louie's sister Debbie.
Stand-up comic Robert Kelly plays Louie's brother, Robbie.
Also David Lynch as Jack Dall.
Comically Missing the Point: Christians Against Masturbation leader Ellen Farber, when Louie rants at her about how she doesn't have the right to tell him that masturbation is wrong:
Louie: And later I'm gonna masturbate and I'm gonna think about you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Farber:(concerned) I hope you do think about me! I hope you think about what I've said—that's exactly what I want!
Continuity Nod: For the most part, every episode can stand on its own, but in "Blueberries", Louie has a rather disturbing sexual encounter with the mother of one of his daughters' classmates (to clarify, she asks him to spank her and breaks down hysterically on the bed). In "Duckling", Louie glimpses her coming out of the class as he's picking up his daughter and she gives him a dirty look. In "Ikea/Piano Lesson", she asks him to come to therapy with her to talk about the incident.
In "Pregnant," the first episode of season 2, Louie's neighbors offer to watch his kids while he tends to an emergency with his sister. Midway through season 3, in "Lilly Changes," Louie has the idea to leave his younger daughter with the same neighbors so he can search for his missing older daughter, only to find that they're in the middle of a serious argument and can't help him right then.
Crapsack World: Nearly every single character but Louie (and occasionally even him) is an unrepentant asshole and Louie never, ever, ever catches a break.
Disproportionate Retribution: A young bully named Sean threatens to put Louie in the hospital. Why? Because Louie asked him (and his friends) to be quiet while he was out on a date.
On the other hand, after his date is spoiled, Louie decides to follow the bully back to his home in Staten Island, to personally approach the parents of his date-ruiner. Things don't go well, but do end on a bittersweet note, with Louie bonding with the bully's father.
The Dog Bites Back: Depending on whether or not he can, Louie will attempt to get back at the people who've wronged him. It can be petty at times.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: In the episode "Telling Jokes/Set Up", Louie goes out with a woman named Laurie. After Laurie gives him oral in his car, she expects him to return the favor, but Louie refuses. Laurie eventually smashes his head against the window and threatens to break his fingers. Louie relents, and in the end, they decide to go out again.
A feminist writing for Slate managed to write twoentire posts without explicitly calling it "rape" or even clearly saying it was wrong, even when she directly compared the incident to male date rape. Apparently, it's just "coercion" to threaten to break someone's fingers if they don't give you head. Even feminist readers of the article took issue with her hypocrisy.
Dr. Ben, who insults Louie for being out of shape and having "the worst penis ever." He's the second biggest jerk in the series, after the first version of Louie's mother.
The incredibly sardonic doctor from the third season premiere:
Doctor: Let's take a look here. (exasperated sigh) You know, there's nothing dumber than riding a motorcycle, it's just stupid. We get motorcycle fatalities in here all the time and I gotta tell you, I feel sorry for none of them. Had a guy in here a week ago—four pieces. His legs both cut off, torso, and his helmet. And a bag which has his head in it. Cut off at the neck. You know what his mom said to me? (turns to Louie for emphasis. Mockingly:)"Is he gonna be alright?"
The doctor played by Charles Grodin in the fourth season opener, who loudly continues to eat once Louie comes into his office, and then ultimately doesn't help him, telling him to 'come see me when you have something fun, like a blood disease.'
Dramatic Irony: The second season finale. Pamela leaves for Paris and makes it extremely clear that Louie shouldn't keep pining for her. Then after she crosses the turnstile, she yells halfway across the airport at Louie to "wave at me!" only for him to mishear it as "wait for me!". Louie goes home in high spirits.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. Louie is interviewed by a couple of obnoxious Kansas City radio DJ's. Louie tolerates their antics and tries to get into the spirit by making fun of Kansas City. They respond with shocked silence before dropping his call.
Dumbass DJ: Louie is forced by his agent to call in to a show with them to promote a performance in Kansas City. Their spiel includes several nonsense words, which Louie understands clearly.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Compared to the later seasons, the first season was a bit more surreal, with the pilot episode ending with his date escaping from him via helicopter.
Everybody Laughs Ending: Happens in "Poker". After gay comedian Rick Crom explained the serious implications of freely using the word "faggot" for comedic purposes, the room goes silent...until Nick breaks the tension by trash talking Rick using the very slur. The laughing doesn't feel contrived here or the rest of the sketch, because the viewers are, more than likely laughing along with the comedians.
Future Me Scares Me: The subject of a tag. Present Louie appears to child Louie and shows him that he'll grow up to be fat and ugly ("you're gonna be bald, too"), but when child Louie asks what the hell happened, present Louie simply says, "I dunno, man. You'll see."
Louie has an epic one while dealing with his sister's pregnancy scare in the season two premier.
Another bad one in the next episode, where Louie dodging a crazy hobo causes the guy to get hit by a garbage truck full-on.
Hollywood Atheist: Surprisingly averted with (the second version of) Louie's mother, who, despite not having any strong belief in God or Jesus, seems to find it unfair to totally deprive Louie of religion just because she's not a believer and stresses that treating everyone kindly is good enough.
Hypocritical Humor: One of Louie's dates reveals that she already has a kid, something she assumes will scare off Louie. When he says that he's cool with it and he has two daughters himself, the woman says that she "can't take this all right now." What.
I Didnt Mean to Turn You On: Ellen from "Come On, God", despite completely meaning to stay celibate until marriage, invites Louie to drinks and then to her apartment, where she changes into a silk robe.
Idiot Ball: Louie's decision to buy a motorcycle and the resulting accident is treated in this manner by everyone in the third season premiere.
Imagine Spot: "Come On, God" demonstrates that Louie has really lame masturbation fantasies.
Jerkass: ...pretty much everybody, but (the first version of) Louie's mother is a standout. She's impossible to please and doesn't care about a single person in any capacity but herself. Hell, she invited Louie and his daughters to her house for Christmas once and stood them up to go to Phoenix! It takes a real piece of work for someone telling his own mother that he doesn't love her and to get out of his life forever in public after she comes out as a lesbian to him to not come across as a Kick the Dog moment.
Louie: My kids spent Christmas in a Holiday Inn. And Santa brought them each a bag of M&Ms. Mother: Are you serious? Your mother tells you that she just found out who she is, and you have no opinion? Louie: Nope. I don't care. Mother: A-ha! You're homophobic!
Kick the Dog: Louie's youngest daughter expresses her greater love for her mother, while he's in the middle of brushing her teeth. This is when Louie previously expressed the idea of suicide when his daughters grow too old to need him. This happens to Louie in general.
Language of Love: In season 4, Louie dates a Hungarian woman who only speaks a few words in English.
Marijuana Is LSD: Probably done for comedic effect, but the pot that Louie smokes with his neighbor in season one apparently can make a dog appear to change breed and replace his neighbor's face with freaky animal masks. To be fair, Louie's neighbor was getting him REALLY high, and was messing with him throughout the whole sequence.
Matzo Fever: Louie claims to have it in a stand-up routine, apparently because they're very no-nonsense sexually.
Louie is dragged around by another woman who seems to be a deconstruction of the trope in Looking For Liz. She tries to be quirky and exciting and adventurously passionate in love and life, but is just awkward and scary, and gross, with her wacky schemes falling on her face.
Mood Whiplash: Often, but dear God, "New Year's Eve" (the Season 3 finale) takes the cake. Louie, depressed at being alone on Christmas Eve in the aftermath of his failure to get the Late Show gig, earns a slight amount of elation when he spots Liz, his love interest from earlier in the season. They recognize each other on the bus and begin to hug, when - SECONDS LATER - blood starts pouring out of her nose. The scene cuts to the hospital, where we see doctors working on her. Liz realizes how serious things are and can only leave Louie with a somewhat confused "Goodbye?" before she faints... and dies. What... the... Hell.
And to add to that, immediately after she dies Louie walks out of the hospital room to people counting down to and celebrating the New Year.
N-Word Privileges: Acceptable usage of "faggot" is discussed in "Poker" at the beginning of season one's second episode.
Negative Continuity: Continuity in characterization, et cetera is of little concern to Louis C.K., and he's explicitly stated that if he gets bored of some element of the show, he'll change it without any kind of announcement.
In the episode "Mom", Louie's mother is a callous, self-centered, and unloving black hole of a person, while in "God" she's kind and reasonable.
Episode 12 of the first season, Louie's brother asks him when was the last time he exercised, and Louie responds never. Five episodes earlier, Louie and his brother are shown exercising together at the gym.
Louie goes from having a brother in season 1 to having two sisters in season 2. An interview would imply that they don't exist side-by-side and that it was a retcon.invoked
One Steve Limit: Averted. The name Ellen (and variations such as Ellie) show up frequently as the names of various unrelated female characters.
Overly-Long Gag: Louie rocking out to the entirety of The Who's "Who Are You?" in "Country Road".
Racist Great-Great-Aunt: Louie's great-aunt Ellen. It's initially implied to be a simple case of Have a Gay Old Time (she calls Brazil nuts "nigger toes"), but when she hears that Louie and his daughters live in New York...
Ellen: Oh, my. That's no place to have two young girls! There's nothing but niggers—and even worse today, I hear!
Religious Stereotype: Subverted. Several Christian characters have appeared on the show that didn't see eye-to-eye with Louie (at all), but were shown to otherwise be decent, friendly people.
Right Through His Pants: Louie always wears a shirt during sex. In a stand-up routine in season 2, episode 2 he claims that it's for the woman's benefit.
Scare 'Em Straight: Back in Louie's Catholic school days, when someone laughs during a lecture on the crucifixion, the nun calls in a doctor to provide a painstaking description of injuries involved in the scourging and crucifixion. Louie continues to have nightmares about it into adulthood.
Shaggy Dog Story: Occasional, like the second half of Season 3's "Ikea / Piano Lesson". Louie watches an old comedy show and ends up phoning Sarah Silverman. Talking about how he fell out with Marc Maron, he proceeds to meet with him and give a drawn out apology, only for Marc to explain he did this five years ago, and Louie leaves.
Skyward Scream: Louie when he realizes that he just passed up a chance for sex with Pamela.
Or Seinfeld if HBO picked it up instead of NBC and it was a dramedy instead of a sitcom.
Stand-Up Comedy: The show's main stories are interspersed with Louie's material performed at (mostly) a small club in New York.
Surrounded by Idiots: Louie learns this in the very first episode. He's chaperoning a school field trip to the Bronx Botanical Gardens and has to deal with a bus driver who knows neither how to get there nor which roads are bus-legal and a teacher who apparently thinks it's wise to have a classful of children walk on foot to a subway station in Harlem.
Tsundere: Pamela could qualify as this. She's abrasive, cynical, and jerky towards Louie. But she does care about him and enjoys having him as a friend, though Louie would like to be something more. Too bad he blows it.
The Verse: A strange version; while the episodes tend to be unrelated and independent of one another, the characters can completely change in between them.
Louie's mom, who is initially a selfish asshole who puts herself before everyone else in S01E07 "Mom," turns into a loving, caring parent by S01E12 God."
Louie's brother Robbie, played by comic Richard Kelly, has a recurring role in Season . In Season 2 Louie has two sisters with no further mention of Robbie.
As of season 3, Louie has an additional (or just the one?) sister played by Amy Poehler.
Robbie is back in season 4.
Louie's ex-wife initially appears only once as a white-skinned pair of hands in S02E07 "Oh, Louie."Come Season 3, she is humorously played by black actress Susan Kelechi Watson with zero explanation or handwaving as to how a mixed race couple has completely white children.
Even more bizarrely, in Season 4's "Elevator Part 4", there is an extended flashback to an early point in Louie and Janet's marriage when she initially gets pregnant with Lily, and the actress playing Janet is caucasian, but she has dark hair and does not look like the mother of Lily and Jane.
Louis and Dr. Ben might qualify, as Louis never seems to get particularly upset at the doc, but will call him an ass.
There are also cases, as which Louie's friendship with Pamela and Eddie, where there's a lot of bile directed at Louie, and he barely reprises because he values their friendship (and he probably finds it funny).
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Louie's brother Robbie loves their mother very much and just wants to hear her say that she loves him. Not only does she not say it, she storms out of the restaurant very visibly offended.
What Could Have Been: In-Universe example: Once Louie's divorce from his wife is finalized, he looks up an old high school crush. After they sit down for coffee and talk for a bit, she comes right out and says that he's been playing coulda-been. They do end up having sex, however.
In the episode "Bully," Louie is on a date with another middle-aged woman. It goes well until a teenager whom Louie asked to quiet down comes over and threatens to beat Louie up. Louie backs down and his date explains in brutally honest fashion that while she understands intellectually that Louie made the sensible, adult choice, at some gut level for her he's simply not a sexual or romantic prospect anymore because he wasn't "strong." They exchange awkward, mutually unhappy goodbyes, with both of them acknowledging that this is a screwed up situation, and the date ends.
Another episode has Louie attempt to woo a black woman. As he questions her over and over again as to why she wont give him a chance, he eventually happens on the reason: she's used to big, strong, athletic black guys, and Louie is pasty, pudgy, and white—practically gay in comparison, to paraphrase.
William Stephenson appears as both a bus driver in the pilot and as himself in "Oh Louie/Tickets".
Amy Landecker appears as Louie's date in "Bully" and as a young Louie's mother in "God".
Do you want a doughnut?.
F. Murray Abraham plays a swinger in "New Jersey" and Louie's uncle Excelsior in "Dad". And then in "In the Woods Part 2," which includes extended flashbacks to Louie's childhood, he plays Louie's dad!
You Have to Have Jews: Louie's agent gets him a part he doesn't want in Matthew Broderick's remake of The Godfather, which is set two years in the future and "it's all Jews".