kimberlee rossi-fuchs looks at the fourth episode of louie…
This season of Louie has frequently focused on Louie’s efforts (and, more often than not, failures) at forging connections with other people, be it blind date rapist Lori or platonic man-crush Ramon. Whereas the previous encounters had been accidental or unplanned, “Daddy’s Girlfriend,” the first of a two-part episode, follows Louie’s active attempts to meet someone after his daughters casually mention their mother’s fun new boyfriend and ask him when he’s going to get a girlfriend. As Louie sits between them, the two girls very maturely discuss their father’s current sad romantic situation, concluding that he just needs to find the right person. It’s a conversation the girls mostly have between themselves and there’s no childish distrust of a parent’s post-divorce potential new mate, just a genuine desire for their father to be happy.
Spurred on by his lunchtime discussion with his daughters, Louie initially looks for love within his current social circle. That night at the Comedy Cellar, he watches comedian Maria Bamford’s set from backstage. Afterward, he asks her to hang out and we immediately cut to the two post-coitus, somewhat grimly lying in bed and watching a Real World-type reality show in which a fluttery, effeminate nerd confesses “I’m not really good at confronting people” a moment before he stabs a woman in the chest for “making me feel bad about myself.” (These surreal, little throwaway jokes are one of my favorite aspects of Louie. Though not really connected to anything else going on in the episode, they perfectly capture CK’s personal humor, just some funny shit you can imagine him laughing about with his friends.)
Apparently, Louie and Maria have done this before, though it doesn’t seem to be particularly enjoyable for either of them, especially Maria, who asks to have sex again not because she liked it the first time, but because she didn’t and wants to take another stab at getting off. Despite the obvious lack of any spark between the two, Louie attempts to elevate their relationship from clandestine booty call to something more, asking Maria if she’d like to have dinner with him and his daughters, an idea which absolutely horrifies her. “I’m here for that and now you’re trying to add features to this thing,” she says, her voice dripping with disgust, before adding the final, hilariously curt blow as she leaves the bedroom, “You’re bad at sex.” After his next show (in which he discusses the lonely, somewhat embarrassing nature of the golfer’s fist pump, having no teammates to high five), he runs into Maria who totally ignores him.
After learning the hard way that you can’t turn a fuck buddy into a girlfriend, Louie turns his sights elsewhere and every woman he encounters is suddenly viewed through a rosy, “maybe her” potential-girlfriend filter. As he drops his daughters off at school, he notices Lilly’s attractive, blonde teacher. An early 60s-type R&B track (as always, the show makes great use of music) accompanies the camera’s lingering gaze over her hair, her hips, and her warm smile until she walks over and slams the door in Louie’s face. Continuing down the hall and peeking into classrooms along the way, he engages in similar reverie about a cute, but unfortunately married, brunette and a frumpy, overweight woman playfully conducting her classroom.
As the music kicks in again, Louie smiles dreamily and is lost in a black and white fantasy sequence in which the woman plays and laughs with Lilly and Grace. The fantasy ends abruptly when Louie pictures actually having sex with her, imagining the woman turning around, hiking up her skirt, and announcing in a rough, unsexy voice, “I only like it this way, ok?” His classroom window shopping makes clear that Louie’s top priority is finding someone who’ll be a good match for his daughters, more so for than for himself. As a single father, his daughters certainly add yet another layer to the already daunting task of finding love as a divorced, forty-something, but any meaningful relationship isn’t possible unless there’s a real attraction present, as well.
Luckily, Louie just may have met someone who fulfills both requirements, when he connects with an employee at a local bookstore (the fabulous Parker Posey, giving off a cerebral, sexy librarian type vibe) who helps him choose a book about flowers for ten year-old Lilly. After the recommended book turns out to be a bit too light for his daughter (she’s more into “depressing novels about people’s heads falling off and terrible things happening,” he explains), Louie returns to the store and asks for another recommendation. The two share a good rapport and banter and when she compliments his interest and dedication to his daughters, the music kicks in anew and we cut to another black and white dream sequence in which the two furiously make out, books flying off the shelves in every direction. The woman says she can relate to Lilly at that age and offers the insight that scary, depressing novels help her deal with her new, burgeoning feelings in a safe and comfortable way. Again the music plays and Louie envisions her and Lilly smiling and reading together on a blanket in the park.
Louie makes his purchase and leaves, but the music follows him into the next scene, where we see him shaving and looking at his face with resigned acceptance in the bathroom mirror. He returns to the bookstore again and asks the woman out in the most Louie-esque way imaginable. Whereas he couldn’t provide a coherent word in last week’s mortifying conversation with Ramon, Louie here openly admits that he’s asking her out and then rambles through the proposition, trying to cram in everything he’s been thinking about her before she can turn him down. He assures her he’s not responding to her kindness towards him by “torpedoing towards your vagina” and promises that despite his looks, he’ll grow on her as “time goes by and you get past the bald head and I sweat a lot and I’m lumpy.”
To his pleasant surprise, she agrees to go out with him and sets a date for drinks later that night, telling him to be more confident and finally adding, “Nice job on the asking out. I liked it. A+.” After she walks away, Louie’s left smiling amidst the bookshelves, giving himself the celebratory, lone golfer fist-pump he mentioned in his earlier stand-up.
In addition to the novelty of seeing a rare moment of triumph for Louie, “Daddy’s Girlfriend (Part 1)” broke from tradition a bit, featuring one linear storyline rather than two tangentially connected vignettes to tell the story. I wasn’t a fan of her somewhat gimmicky standup act, but Maria Bamford was really funny as Louie’s disappointed booty call. As the charming bookstore employee, Parker Posey exuded both warmth and sexiness and had great chemistry with CK. I’m hoping she sticks around for a bit and am eager to see how it all plays out in next week’s conclusion.
all photos credit: fx network