From women to people of color to those struggling with addiction, the series often feels like it is playing Whack-a-Mole with different groups to whom it could punch down. That being said, its final completed episode, “Clown Time is Over” (which went unaired during its initial run), failed for a different reason—its jokes are simply dull.
Too often, Lucky Louie has come across as a great concept with poor execution. The idea of one of the funniest living comedians showing the contemporary relevance of a seemingly dated storytelling style by featuring modern language and topics of conversation is the sort of of thing which, hypothetically, I’d be very much on board with. Unfortunately, Louis C.K. too often forgets to update the attitudes associated with the form, leaving Lucky Louie often feeling like an ugly excuse to retread perspectives which television should’ve left behind long ago.
Welcome to the latest in the series of weekly complaints about offensive jokes in Louis C.K.’s oeuvre, or as Sound on Sight calls them, reviews of the first and only season of Lucky Louie. In all seriousness, just when it seems like the show’s humor can’t get any more tasteless, it finds subjects now (ten years after Lucky Louie premiered, but still) universally considered to be taboo to mock.
Throughout Lucky Louie’s prior episodes, the show has struggled to toe the line between using a dated style to express contemporary ideas and genuinely espousing a retrograde attitude. Although some moments, like Rich’s misogynistic jokes, have at least had the awareness not to directly align the viewer with the sentiments being conveyed, others, like the racist caricature in “A Mugging Story,” have seemed flat-out backwards.
The contemporary culture around TV viewership is one that favors binge-watching over moderate consumption. Whether you’re catching up on an older show or checking out the latest series from a streaming service, binge viewership has become thought of by many as the default mode (when possible) for enjoying TV. The verb form of the phrase (i.e. “to binge-watch”) was shortlisted for the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.
Season four of Louie has been an unusual one, even compared to the other seasons of this unique show. After seasons of standalone shorts and only a couple multiple-episode arcs, Louis C.K. dove in head first with three large-scale stories, “Elevator” (parts one-six), “In The Woods”, and “Pamela” (parts one-three). While each is distinct, these three pieces all explore connection and communication, both verbal and nonverbal. “Elevator” sees Louie pursuing and enjoying a relationship with Amia, with whom he is unable to verbally communicate, but it also shows him becoming involved in the lives of his neighbors and confronting the lingering damage of his divorce, to himself as well as his ex-wife Janet and their daughters. Throughout “Elevator”, Louie assumes. He’s so wrapped up in his experience and his fears that he projects all of his onto the women in his life, reading his insecurities in their silence. He attempts to overcome communication barriers by speaking louder and more emphatically and in the process, doesn’t listen to what those around him are trying to say.