Lucky Louie, Season 1, Episode 8: “Get Out”
Written by Mike Royce
Directed by Andrew D. Weyman
Aired on July 31st, 2006 on HBO
Lucky Louie tackles some fairly dark subjects in its first season. Racism, misogyny, and homophobia are just a few topics the show uses as sources of humor (and which these reviews have called out for poorly handling). That being said, it’s at least had the decency to avoid rape, an issue which it was hard to imagine the series being any more deft at discussing. Avoided, that is, until this week’s “Get Out,” and the results are as uninspiring and potentially pernicious as Rich’s stale and offensive jokes throughout the season.
Before the episode gets to the rape plot, though, it starts off with a teaser which showcases yet another one of said jokes. In the scene, Rich wants free pizza, and he’s not worried about which groups he has to mock to do it. As with just about all of the Rich jokes, it’s not clear whether we’re supposed to laugh at or with him, and this ambiguity keeps the scene from being funny. It could be that the joke is about Rich being dumb enough to make fun of the mentally handicapped, but it seems equally likely that the show is just mocking the group. The visual gag of Rich knocking the pizza out of Louie’s hands doesn’t bear the same burden; unfortunately, the quest for an “edgy” joke kills the scene’s momentum before the less offensive humor has a chance to be heard.
Still, the cold open isn’t nearly as misguided as what follows. Mike and Tina’s sixteen year old daughter Shannon (Emma Stone) is moving in with her much older boyfriend, and she’s content to use it as an excuse to yell at her parents. Stone is fantastic in the role, and the shots of her yelling “Fuck you!” at her parents are some of the funniest parts in the show to date, even if they feel a bit redundant after Lucy’s tantrums in last week’s “Discipline.”
Less fantastic, though, is the context in which Lucky Louie introduces her into the show. There may be a tasteful way to play her relationship with a man more than twice her age, but the approach taken by “Get Out” certainly isn’t it. To start with, the relationship is introduced as a joke, undermining any attempt the viewer could make to take the situation seriously. Then, to make matters worse, director Andrew D. Weyman lets the camera linger on the couple as they make out, fetishizing the relationship. Although Weyman’s intent could be to provoke the viewer’s discomfort, the episode never takes a clear enough stance on the relationship to suggest a definite attempt at soliciting moral outrage. Even worse, given Shannon’s obnoxious behavior (and how well Stone sells it), “Get Out” encourages the viewer to blame her as much as her boyfriend for the relationship.
The creepy undertones of “Get Out” continue in Louie’s relationship with Kim. After he discovers her high school yearbook picture, he’s aroused, to Kim’s obvious disgust. As if the situation weren’t gross enough on its own, it’s followed by Shannon moving in with Kim and Louie. While Weyman and writer Mike Royce are at least self-aware enough to realize the appalling implications here (which get redundantly stated by Shannon offering to blow Louie), their treatment of the situation still doesn’t justify their decision to set it up in the first place. As with Rich’s jokes, Louie’s disturbing thoughts are played for laughs, and “Get Out” doesn’t define whether the laughs are supposed to be at or with the character.
Regardless of the episode’s intent, there’s no excuse for the ending, which appears to justify Louie’s pedophilic desires. When Kim puts on the hat her husband had fetishized her for wearing in her youth shortly before, she acquiesces to his desires. Even if the viewer is supposed to abhor Louie for his attractions, it’s clear that Kim does not.
This is all fascinating in light of a subplot in Amy Schumer’s recent feature debut Trainwreck, in which her character (a thirty-something woman) nearly sleeps with a sixteen-year-old intern. As with the arc in Lucky Louie, the story is played entirely for laughs, and it has not, to my knowledge, provoked the Tumblr cries of “#Problematic!” one can only imagine “Get Out” receiving in the contemporary age. Whether this is merely because of the gender-swapping of the two scenarios is anyone’s guess, but the fact remains that neither scenario gives the viewer enough space to determine what she thinks for herself. Statutory rape shouldn’t be taken lightly, but Lucky Louie and Trainwreck appear to disagree.