Is 'Louie' Season 5 The Last One? Good News, Louis CK Fans: It's Not Over Any Time Soon
The new season of the comedy-nerd-bait sitcom kicks off this Thursday, so of course it's time to start predicting whether or not Louie Season 5 is the final one. That's not too likely, considering that FX clearly loves the show, and Louis CK told Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee that he could see Louie running for "seven, eight years tops." (I'm going to choose to believe he meant "seasons" instead of years.) So, there is an endpoint in mind, but even when the show inevitably ends is, does anything really go away these days? The creative teams developing reboots of Full House, Coach, and The X-Files would say "no." Plus, the state of TV is an important consideration as we hazard our own guesses: Network sitcoms still roll regularly off the assembly line, sure (I'm convinced that millions of people across the world have been watching the same episode of The Big Bang Theory for the past five years). But elsewhere, networks and creators are playing with form, scheduling, and everything that being raised on Nick@Nite taught us about what comedy on TV should be.
Louie doesn't look anything like the multi-camera, "filmed in front of a studio audience" comedy that ruled television for years. It's avant garde, non-linear, and utterly unpredictable. Arcs do exist — Louie's relationship with his kids; his pursuit of Pamela — but otherwise, there's absolutely no guarantee that any person or plotline we see in one episode will show up in the next. Or ever again. Actors he likes might show up as several characters; and some characters are played by more than one actor. In every way, Louie keeps us on our toes.
Another mysterious aspect of Louis CK's series is when exactly we'll get to see it. FX doesn't keep the comedian and showrunner to a schedule. Nine months passed between the first and second seasons, and also between the second and the third. But then the show took a hiatus that was more like a hibernation. Nineteen months went by while fans waited on Season 4. Nineteen months! That's enough time for two full pregnancies, and then some. (And now I'm curious about the correlation between Louis CK's break and a possible fan baby boom.)
Louis CK told NPR that he "aggressively forgot the show existed" during that time, a head-clearing luxury that must make creatives who are tied to a more traditional production schedule seethe with jealousy. He also said that thinks about each season premiere as "being like a pilot again." That sense of rebirth and reset are what's protected Louie from accusations of "the sophomore slump" or of generally being past its prime. It's also what might keep the man who's both behind and in front of the camera coming back to the process.
A show can end for a lot of reasons: poor ratings; contract negotiations; it hit the threshold for syndication buy-out and everyone just wants to go home, put their feet up, and wait for the royalties to roll in; etc, etc. And sometimes, the cause of death for a series is simply creative boredom. Louis CK really set himself up nicely by insisting on this malleable format. He and his material are among the show's only constant. As long as he's inspired and his network stays hands-off, Louie never really needs to die.
Image: KC Bailey/FX; Giphy