Thursday, July 7, 2011

TV That Doesn't Suck

Television has had a Renaissance in the past 15 years or so. Ever since HBO proved to everyone that you could actually make good TV that was more like a 50 minute movie every week, the stigma of tv being the cheap, lame little brother to film was lifted. Now, the ratio of good to crap tv is way closer than good to crap movies. Standards have been raised so high that when a stupid clunker like The Killing airs on usually bulletproof AMC, it's surprising (and to be honest, it's telling that The Killing would be one of the best, most ground breaking show on TV 25 years ago). There are a couple shows that stand out from the rest, and from time to time I'll start watching one of said shows on Netflix or On Demand, and then my entire life is consumed with watching this show for a couple weeks. I even talk to my friends who haven't seen the show yet about it, and urge them to watch this television show that they've never heard of before, or have heard of but never bothered to watch. This recently happened to me with "Louie".

"Louie" is the brainchild of every comedian's favorite comedian Louis C.K., who writes, directs, edits and stars in the show and basically does everything except operate the camera (I'm not sure, he may even do that). This is C.K.'s second go round on T.V. (his HBO show, Life with Louie, tried to be an adult sitcom and was pretty lame) and he seems to have gotten the kinks out. The show is loosely based on his life as a divorced father and comedian, and at first glance, it kind of seems like a much dirtier Seinfeld, all the way down to the stand up routine wrap arounds and the New York City locations, and maybe even the tenuous connections between the vignettes that make up the show, but beneath the surface is a disgusting, and hilarious show that actually lives up to the cliche of being like nothing you've ever seen on television before.

The first episode I saw was the second episode of the recently premiered second season. (Spoiler Alert) It opens with something familiar as a nightmare to most New Yorkers; a bum yelling at no one and then pointing and running towards you before eventually becoming decapitated by a garbage truck. This may not seem funny, but it's a perfect set up for an awkward encounter a few minutes later in the episode. This same offering ends with some even more awkward casual sex ending in a woman sobbing uncontrollably and a classic last line of dialogue. This all sounds either depressing or a horribly forced attempt at black humor, but it works somehow. Louis C.K. is known as a comedian's comedian, and you can really see how these are just ideas that almost make you laugh at the balls that it takes to put them on screen: think of the most horrifying incident before what is usually an uncomfortable experience like a first date and commit it to film. It's at times a little rough to watch but it's the type of tv show that more than makes up for a little discomfort with great, ballsy writing. The jazzy background music and setting almost makes it feel like a Woody Allen movie, except for the decapitations and graphic sex. Check it out.

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