'Louie' Season 4 Wasn't Necessarily a Comedy But That's OK Because Today's Comedies Aren't Always Funny
Truthfully, Season 4 of Louie , which comes to an end on Monday night, stirred up a lot of opinions this year. From varying thoughts on how Louis C.K. writes about women (I, for one, am still in awe of the feat he accomplished with this season's third episode "So Did the Fat Lady") to opinions about whether the FX series, which was nominated for the Outstanding Comedy Series at the 2013 Emmys, is actually a comedy anymore.
While Season 4 has most certainly had its fair share of hilarious moments (including Louie being awoken by some very invasive trash collectors and later throwing his back out shopping for a vibrator), this has been one of the most sobering, dramatic, and thoughtful seasons yet. But, unlike Season 1's helicopter escape or Season 3's doll fiasco scene (still one of the funniest things I've ever seen on television), Season 4 hasn't had as many gut-busting, straight-up comedy moments. And that's okay. Especially since Louis C.K. has all but changed the rules of television with Season 4 of Louie. Last week's 90-minute episode "In the Woods" felt like the best indie, coming-of-age dramedy of 2014 that never hit theaters, while the six-part "Elevator" saga told a devastating, star-crossed romance. It was more captivating and authentic than what most actual dramas produce on television.
Then again, Louie has never been your typical comedy, nor has it ever followed any rules when it comes to its unique brand of storytelling and casting. (F. Murray Abraham has now played Louie's estranged father, his uncle, and a swinger who propositions him.) Nor is the television comedy what it used to be. For every sitcom like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family that fits the standard comedy mold, there's shows like Orange is the New Black (much more of a drama than a comedy, no matter how funny Lorna's speech about Toy Story was) and Girls (which causes more uncomfortable laughter than anything else) that blur the line. And honestly, it's making for more interesting television. Don't get me wrong here, I love classic laugh track sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld, but this seismic shift in comedic storytelling — which has been lead by Louis C.K. over the past few years— has made television feel groundbreaking and new.
And it's not just comedy blurring the lines. Louie is a comedy that can make you feel reflective and melancholy, but dramas like Breaking Bad can just as easily make you laugh with their twisted, dark comic relief. While the Emmys will always categorize shows into dramas and comedies, the shows themselves will continue to break down the barriers of what constitutes a drama or a comedy on today's elevated television landscape. Louie may not have made you laugh as hard as some other funny shows on TV this year, but it did challenge the boundaries of what comedy, and television as a whole is, and that alone makes this season a success.