Lucky Louie, Season 1, Episode 4: “Long Weekend”
Written by Louis C.K.
Directed by Andrew D. Weyman
Aired on July 3rd, 2006 on HBO
Throughout Louis C.K.’s career, although he often bears a strong resemblance to the characters he plays (including in his stand-up persona), he almost never seems to intend for the audience to wholly identify with them. Outside of his self-righteous late-night rants, as heavily as C.K. plays his regular guy shtick (particularly when he positions himself as the relatable foil to an off-the-rails sad sack, such as in “Cop Story” from the most recent season of Louie), there’s almost always something to keep the viewer from unambiguously rooting for him.
Sometimes that “something” is quite a bit more pronounced, like in “Long Weekend.” Although there are often conceivable loopholes for those who wish to defend C.K.’s characters, there’s not much of a possible argument to defend his $300 purchase of the Frankenstein doll. In fact, it’s such an indefensible action that it detracts from the episode’s appeal—as with last week’s failure of a hide and seek game with Lucy in the cold open, it feels too much like a manufactured sitcom scene, rather than a real-life scenario, to have much comedic appeal.
Still, the teaser in “A Mugging Story” is more preferable to the unabashed homophobia at the beginning of “Long Weekend.” As these reviews have discussed, C.K. never seems to be condoning the prejudicial attitudes of his characters, but his decision to depict the views onscreen (particularly without depicting those they harm) feels lazy and unnecessary. Sure, it’s hard to take Rich’s view of Independence Day as a tribute to the homosexuality of the Founding Fathers with much seriousness, but goading viewers to laugh at him doesn’t feel like the best way to counter his views. If anything, the scene (along with the equivalent scenes of racism and sexism which have pervaded Lucky Louie thus far) feels like it’s treating prejudicial views as a laughing matter when, in reality, they’re far from being that.
But the homophobia certainly doesn’t dominate “Long Weekend,” as the episode’s more concerned with a real Fourth of July tradition—putting on a party. Kim tries to buy over $200 worth of food in the hopes of throwing an Independence Day bash, but she’s foiled by Louie’s financial mishaps. Although the scene functions mostly as plot exposition, the shot of Jerry crudely snacking on the unpaid for food is a nice comedic touch, and it proves (unlike his appearance in “A Mugging Story”) that he doesn’t need to be naked to make his crudeness apparent.
The crudeness continues when Kim finds Louie’s peep show tokens as she’s looking for any possible money to use for the party. While her discovery is mostly a throwaway, it’s noteworthy for its situation of the show in the past—one doesn’t imagine a married father in 2006 would still be going to theaters to watch porn; if he did, it’d necessitate more of a conversation than Kim and Louie have about the matter. The setting of the show in the past provides some explanation for its often retrograde-seeming politics, but Lucky Louie doesn’t tend to be auto-critical enough to effectively comment on outdated prejudices. As excellent as Mad Men was, it often ran into a similar problem—how does one depict the biases of the past without glorifying them?
Despite these touches, “Long Weekend” is much more concerned with the absurdity of Louie and Kim’s financial debacle, which is to the detriment of the episode as a whole. After she catches her husband lying twice, her attempt at empathy lends “Long Weekend” a bit of depth, but the situation feels too unbelievable to have much of an impact. C.K. is too smart to genuinely suggest that Louie’s purchase of the doll is equivalent to Kim’s desire to have the party, which leaves their conversation in the tag feeling just as contrived as his financial mishaps.
Ultimately, even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense, the discussion between Louie and Kim does work as a way to distract viewers before Rich’s line about the fireworks. Although his crude dialogue in the cold open isn’t much to care for, bringing it back at the end does make for a hilarious conclusion to an episode which otherwise searches for a hook. Louie’s woes with the doll don’t seem like they’d be a strong enough way to end the episode, so bringing back Rich’s crude humor makes for an effective substitute. The joke isn’t developed enough to rank among Lucky Louie’s best gags, but it’s a welcome surprise as a cap to the middling “Long Weekend.”