The Best Women Guest Stars On 'Louie' From The Ones You Forgot To The Ones Who'll Never Leave Your Brain

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Louie is a great show. It is hilarious, awkward, and cringe-until-you-cramp-up funny. Now most of the time Louis CK gets the credit for this, as he well should. He has the herculean task of writing, directing, editing and producing ever episode of the show — I'm exhausted just thinking about doing all of that. But another facet of the show that gets a fair bit of attention (and no shortage of praise) is the casting of Louie CK's famous comedian friends to come on the show to play alternative-versions of themselves. That's always a treat to watch (seriously, those comedy bros he's always bringing around have great chemistry), but I don't think that's Louie's best asset. The show's real weapon, it's secret sauce, the thing that makes it truly fantastic is when Louie focuses on women. Talented ladies appear on it week after week, bringing humor, attitude, and sometimes just a few delightfully odd layers to the show. It's no easy task going up against comedy heavyweights like CK, Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Rock, but these ladies do it every day of the week, all they do it damn well.

While there have been many memorable women over the last four seasons (with hopefully many more to come) I've narrowed down the best eight female guest stars to grace the show to date.

8. Megan Hilty As Heckler

Long before Smash made her a household name, Megan Hilty was giving Louie crap during his standup routine. There is something truly magical about Hilty, even as they fight and Louie tears her a new one — there is still a level of sexual tension between them. Her appearance was short but brilliant.

7. Joan Rivers As Herself

Bow down to the queen of comedy, stinging one-liners, and all things inappropriate. When she showed up in Season 2 she spit some real talk about the industry, and then they got down and dirty. Was it weird and a little bit gross? Sure was. Was it hilarious? You better believe it.

6. Amy Poehler As Debbie

We both know this list wouldn’t be complete without Amy on here! Sure, they only talked on the phone briefly as Louie's sister, but it was brilliant and she is amazing and should totally get back together with Officer Dave. OK I might be mixing sitcoms here but the point stands.

5. Amy Landecker As Louie's Mother/Sandra

Landecker pulls double duty here since she has played Louie’s flashback mom (in "God") and a girlfriend (in "Bully"). I’m still not exactly sure why she shows up in both, though I suspect it's something awkward and Freudian. Her wonderful speech about the need to be good was such a touching moment in an often sharp show, and her honesty on screen was refreshing after so much cynicism.

4. Yvonne Strahovski As Blake

Ah ha! Another bombshell blonde — anyone else noticing a trend? As a wealthy socialite/supermodel (you know, the kind of woman you would expect to be interested in Louie) Strahovski was hilarious when she was both falling in love with Louie and suing the pants off of him.

3. Parker Posey As Liz

The perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Posey brought a fire and spunk that the excellent but contemplative Season 3 needed. She laughed, snuck on to rooftops, and pushed Louie right out of his comfort zone. She may be gone from the series (RIP, seriously), but I am still hoping we’ll see her again. There’s always dreams or flashbacks — just ask Mad Men.

2. Sarah Baker as Vanessa

Was there ever a more jarring, resonant moment of TV when Baker straight-up preaches like she’s in church about the social injustices of being a fat woman in this society? She killed it in the Season 4 episode “So Did the Fat Lady,” and two seasons later we are still talking about it. It completely flipped the script for how plus size women in TV are typically shown and Barker embodied that humor and rage perfectly.

1. Pamela Adlon As Pamela

It's possible that this is cheating since she doesn't quite qualify as a guest star (she's more of a recurring character), but Pamela is so great she gets top billing anyway. Adlon as Pamela is fully developed, complex, interesting and funny as all get out; she's basically perfection. She’s a friend, an unrequited love, and finally a girlfriend. Watching Pamela and Louie's relationship develop over the last four seasons has been on of the emotional touchstones of the show. Adlon balances cynicism with vulnerability wonderfully, and I cannot wait to see what she does next in Season 5.

Images: KC Bailey (2), screengrab/FX; giphy (5); nefariouscinephile/Tumblr