In the grand scheme of things, I’m still fairly young. I’m not the 20-something bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little shit I was just a decade ago, but I have enough vim and vigor to want to go out and choke every bit I can out of life.

That said, sometimes that get-up-and-go can turn into not so much got-up-and-went, but roll-over-and-back-to-sleep. Life can seem like a play where you’re going through the motions, waiting for the director to tell you to go fuck yourself and throw in the eager understudy, if you don’t remain in the right headspace. And that’s where we meet Louie in the season premiere episode “Pot Luck”. Thanks for kicking us in the ass again and making the audience confront awful truths about life, Louie.

While discussing his sense of ennui with his therapist, Louie describes a sense of unease in his life, wondering if life is worth the struggle of the good and the bad. For Louie’s troubles, his shrink dozes off during his existential crisis, making Louie exclaim, “I’m a boring asshole now!” I don’t know if I can universalize this epiphany and say that everyone has that thought, but the notion has certainly crossed my mind. Louie has a wonderful way of tapping into situations that are, if not universal, at least touch on feelings that have flitted across our minds from time to time. I’ve suspected I’m a boring asshole as time drags on, wondering what I have to contribute and if my experiences and struggles and good qualities are worth sharing. The rest of the episode is wonderful television, but I had to pause the DVR after that scene to consider how brilliant Louie reflects the human condition in 21st century America.

And, like Louie the character, if we’ve got the gumption, we’ll go and try to shake the boring out of our lives, to poke and prod at life to see it has anything to surprise us with. Louie takes a small step in this direction by deciding to go to a pot luck dinner that’s regularly held for parents of the children at the school Louie’s daughters attend. He calls up Marina, who’s hosting the dinner and who seems put-out by Louie’s last-minute inquiry about whether he can show up. Life marginalizes us so much, sometimes with our help, sometimes not, so this interchange feels natural: The hostess has to deal with another guest she wasn’t anticipating, and Louie has asked to attend a gathering where he probably gets the sense that he’s not welcome or, at the very least, a hindrance and a mild burden.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBz3F4WKKfM

But, despite that, Louie seems to be genuinely interested in making the best of the situation, and it’s one of the few times in the episode he seems to have pulled out of his funk. He’s making fried chicken for the pot luck and the direction for the scene showed how he’s almost a skilled surgeon or artisan at making the chicken. He’s in his element. Whether it’s from the thrill of going out and being social and snuffing out his boredom or just a light at the end of the depression tunnel, I don’t know, but it’s certainly a relatable scene to me. You become excited at the prospect that the cloud blighting the sun of your joy is able to be vanquished, even if the chance is slim.

After arriving at the wrong party, which is filled with self-love and acceptance, strange and alien to Louie, he arrives at Marina’s shindig, which is dwindling in numbers and seems to be ending. The unresponsiveness of some of the guests and Marina’s disgust at Louie trying to join in a conversation about her surrogate prompt Louie to leave. The surrogate, Julianne, offers to let him share her Uber ride for a free way home. Louie helps Julianne up to her apartment, which turns into a whole thing of him consoling her through her pregnancy hormones and lack of body confidence. His kind words lead to the two having a sexual romp that induces labor and a mad-dash to the hospital. Marina and her partner meet Louie at the hospital in enough time to berate him for screwing up their birthing plans, including the location, pulling Louie back to his lows.

While the situations are hyperbolic and exaggerated for effect—as so many episodes of Louie are—they do an excellent job at showing that life is not all ups or all downs. Life is a process and a struggle and a sifting of the muck and mire and appreciating the good despite the bad. Louie’s revelation that he believes his life is boring is thrown out the window in “Pot Luck”. The experiences might not have been what he was looking for necessarily, but they reminded him, even for just a moment, that his life was far from boring. I’m hoping to see Louie being reminded of that more and more as the season progresses.

Review: LOUIE Episode 5.1: Pot Luck
LOUIE returns to FX with a hint that Louie the character will be venturing out to throw his life out of the boring ennui he finds himself in. A good start to a hopefully great season.
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