Lucky Louie, Season 1, Episode 2, “Kim’s O”
Written by Dan Mintz & Aaron Shure
Directed by Andrew D. Weyman
Aired on June 18, 2006 on HBO
Two episodes in, sexual politics have been a clear theme of Lucky Louie, and “Kim’s O” plays no small part in that. Like last week’s “Pilot,” the episode centers on the dysfunctional sexual relationship between Louie and Kim, and how it burdens their entire lives. But whereas “Pilot” suffered for being too focused on the boorishness of Louie and his friends (even if it mocked their perspective), “Kim’s O” succeeds by making her unhappiness the episode’s focal point, rather than depicting her as unfortunate (but comical) collateral damage.
It’s not like “Kim’s O” completely leaves the boorishness aside, although it’s used more sparingly and effectively here. It begins in the teaser, with Louie and Kim laughing at the loud, orgasmic sounds they hear Ellen making through the walls. But even here, although a woman’s sexuality is still the butt of a joke, the episode at least takes the step of having a different woman (Kim) be in on the humor. Of course, her presence doesn’t absolve the scene of misogyny, but it shifts the scene more towards laughing at all sexuality (which will eternally be funny), rather than specifically pointing at female desire.
The same can’t be said once Rich joins Louie and describes Ellen as a “little whore.” The conversation with Louie that immediately follows, about Rich’s urine selling operation, establishes him as a scumbag who is not to be identified with, but the joke still appears to be on Ellen as much as him. Regardless, his juvenile dick jokes simply aren’t that funny, and there doesn’t seem to be much that’s creative about them, beyond putting them in the context of a style of show which traditionally wouldn’t have had that sort of humor.
Thankfully, the slack is picked up by the hilarious sex scenes between Louie and Kim, which rank as some of the funniest slapstick gags on a Louis C.K. show. After he makes her have her first orgasm, Louie’s determined to repeat his success, even if it means shifting from side to side in a way that looks to be quite a good distance away from being erotic. Beyond the shock value of the jokes, though, they stick in the audience’s throat for the details they reveal about the two characters—they function as pure comedy, but they work equally well as exposition for the show’s central relationship.
Despite the emphasis on physicality in these scenes, Louie realizes (thanks to Mike’s advice) that the conditions necessary to give Kim another orgasm may be psychological as much as physical, which leads to him calling her a “fuckin’ bitch” in the final sex scene of the episode. Although the line does smack of Rich’s misogynistic comments, it catches the viewer by surprise enough that it doesn’t seem nearly as tired or lazy. In fact, on a show which often relies on its predictability (and connection to tradition), it stands out for its shock.
When Lucky Louie is at its best (like in that scene), it combines the lack of inventiveness inherent in its style with a modern sensibility that makes it feel fresh. For the show to keep from feeling like a shallow exercise in pastiche, it needs to stick more towards the latter, which “Kim’s O” does by paying as much attention as it does to the episode’s title character.