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Louie: "Moving"

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Louie

"Moving"

Season 2, Episode 3

Louie is, on some level, all about its protagonist’s attempts to understand and makes sense of a chaotic and random world. Heaven knows there are few things more chaotic and random than the soul-crushing practice of finding a new place to live and moving. This is amplified sevenfold if you’re a New Yorker. New York is the epicenter of many things: surreally shitty living situations chief among them.

In “Moving” CK decides to move out of his apartment in an attempt to make a clean break from his sad old life and embark on a dazzling new path. It’s a symbolic as well as practical gesture. He wants to rid himself of the old ghosts and painful memories and embark on a new destiny.

He wants a place that reflects who he is and where he is in life. Alas, the first few places he visits with friend Pamela Adlon, convey all too accurately where he is in life: fucked. CK endures a jazzy montage of apartment-seeking disasters before encountering the worst of them all: a strange, only-in-New-York pad with a toilet in the kitchen and a confused, underwear-clad old man in the kitchen.

Looking out the window of the man’s apartment, Louie sees something strange even for New York: a crazed-looking homeless man being man-handled, then returned to his original spot by some fed-looking individuals in black suits. As with much of Louie, it’s not entirely clear how we’re supposed to process this. Did this actually happen? If so, why? Is Louie imagining it? If Louie is imagining it, then why? Crazy shit like that happens all the time in Louie. We’ve been trained to accept and expect a lot of strange, random business. We’ve been trained to go along with the ride and not question where we’re headed, which is much of the show’s live-wire appeal: it literally can go just about anywhere.

Sitcoms and dramas and soap operas and police procedurals condition audiences to expect certain things: laugh tracks and three-act structures and arcs and whatnot. Louie goes without many of those things so it has to condition audiences differently and with a much different set of expectations. We expect, for example, that at various points in Louie the show will go from objective to subjective as we push past boring old regular reality and into Louie’s fantasies and day-dreams.

CK grows as an actor with each episode. There’s a wonderful moment at the end of CK’s trip to the creepy toilet-kitchen-apartment after CK’s friend Pamela Adlon leaves in disgust where he exchanges a look with the creepy old man in his underwear of commiseration, empathy and, primarily, confusion. Neither man understands the world around him or his place in it or what exactly it is the other man happens to be doing at that particular place. 

Like many of us, CK keeps expecting the world to make sense and conform to certain universally accepted rules. He is subsequently constantly disappointed if not surprised, when it doesn’t make sense or play by the rules. For example, there’s a great scene where CK and Adlon visit an Israeli-seeming dude who looks like Michael Ian Black about a great-seeming apartment.

When CK asks to see the apartment, he’s brusquely told it’s not available, but a much shittier apartment is. It is, in other words, a blatant case of bait-and-switch. The agent concedes as much; he feels no need to hide the fact that what he’s doing is criminal. It's New York. It's the housing biz. A certain level of corruption is both expected and tolerated. CK expects the world to make sense and play by the rules; Adlon does not so she accepts and understands situations and conflicts that flummox Louie.

I hope CK and Adlon never hook up on the show. I really like her as the friend who sees through CK’s bullshit and calls his bluff. That was also the role she played on Lucky Louie but I like her better here.

“Moving” isn’t divided into two discreet parts like most Louie episodes but there is a clear divide between its first and second half. The first half can charitably be called a descent into moving hell. The second half offers a tantalizing, maddening glimpse into moving heaven.

After slogging his way through an endless series of terrible domiciles CK finds a home beyond his wildest dreams: five bedrooms, gorgeous, airy. And if all that weren’t enough, it was once rented by "a somewhat famous comedian named Lenny Bruce."

Louie is in love. In a sequence that can definitely be delineated as fantasy, Louie twirls madly with the elegant older real estate agent who assures him, “Your girls will be very happy here. Even happier than they are at their mother’s house. You would be their favorite and no one could judge you or say you were anything but a wonderful, wonderful father.”

He has found the home that will solve all his problems. The only problem: it costs 17 million dollars, which is just under 17 more million dollars than he currently possesses. Louie knows this but the dream is just too goddamned beautiful to give up so he sees his accountant/money dude, who lets him down as easily as possible.

Louie is a show of beautifully observed little moments that build into something greater than the sum of its individual parts. I adored, for example, the moment when CK, grasping for straws as to why he should be able to buy a 17 million dollar home despite being broke, meekly mumbles, “Obama?”

He’s referring, presumably, to the 8,000 dollar Obama first-time home owner’s credit (that enabled miscreants like myself to become home owners) but on a more metaphorical level he seems to be alluding to the unspoken but widespread conviction among white liberals that if we only elected someone like Obama everything would be possible, even the wildly implausible. We invested an awful lot of our hopes and dreams in Obama. The least he could do was make it possible for us to all own our seventeen million dollar dream home.

In the end, Louie ends up doing what people generally do when their goals are forever outside their grasp: he slaps a new coat of paint on something less than perfect and continues to dream of something better. It's an expectedly moving ending to a show that's leaping from peak to peak these days. Oh, but y'all have much to look forward to in next week's episode as well. That's all I'm going to tell you.

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