Louie

6:00 AM PST 06/19/2012 by Tim Goodman
FX

As ridiculous and humanistic as ever, Louis C.K.'s FX show remains the gold standard for comedy.

The first season of Louie on FX was like landing on a foreign planet. It was a show that didn't look much like anything that had come before it. There was this loose, almost improvisational feel to it, but you never once thought that series creator Louis C.K. had his eye off any detail. It was a comedy about a comedian's everyday life, so it was always funny -- often in ways that were jaw-droppingly hilarious. And there was this sweetness, this completely real humanity to it.

That first season felt like Louis C.K. had pulled a heist on Hollywood. You couldn't believe the show was ever greenlighted.

The second season was even better than the first. As season three of Louie kicks off, it's no secret that the show is more cult than barn-raising hit. But you don't need to have seen one frame of the first two seasons to immediately get what's going on.

It's about Louie, a divorced comedian and father of two really cute and perceptive girls. Louie has a hard time figuring out life, which can easily crush him. He has even more difficulty finding love, or even someone he can communicate with. He's an accomplished masturbator. He's a man who at once says the wrong thing directly and also the right thing wrapped up in a flurry of words that seem painful for him to conjure and then speak. You pull for him, even when you want to strangle him. He's the sad sack in all of us, the person we become when we're overcome with doubt or can't seem to do anything right. Louie is king of the mojo-less.

Having watched the first five episodes of season three, I've found Louie to be as great as ever. It seems to be shifting into a higher gear, when no one thought that option was even available.

But here's the thing -- it's nearly impossible to describe an episode of Louie, precisely because so little happens. The whole concept of the show, and the premise for each episode, is minimalist, which leaves room for exquisitely uncomfortable scenes. It also lets the show breathe, and that's where the naturalism -- this show's secret trick -- comes from. The series has earned the right to be about whatever small adventure Louis C.K. goes on. Look no further than two odd, funny and touching episodes (the fourth and fifth) featuring Parker Posey this season.

Airdate: 10:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28 (FX)

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