One of the biggest problems with late season Louie is that the show seems to really be running out of ideas. That wouldn’t be quite so annoying if the show was still a comedy, rather than an attempt at faux art cinema (or whatever else it’s trying to do these days), but when the only draw to a show is the novelty of its stories, well, those stories really have to be novel. Case in point: last week’s episode, “Cop Story,” focused on Louis’ encounter with one pathetic, largely insufferable man, and this week’s episode spends its first half on another. At least he could’ve gone through the effort to split these up.
That being said, I liked the first half of “Bobby’s Place” more than any of “Cop Story,” even if it was overly same-y. Bobby isn’t nearly as broad, and he’s been on the show before, so there’s an emotional resonance with him, even if it’s small. There were also a couple gags here that the brothers’ relationship could build off of. First, there’s the failure at attending a funeral. This is, of course, a repetition of Louis attending the wrong parent get-together in the season’s first episode, not to mention something that’s popped up in sit-coms countless times before, but at least it was something. Afterwards, Bobby wants Louis to go upstairs with him for a bit, and this was one of the better parts of the story, as Louis explains that he simply doesn’t want to. But he does. It’s a telling moment for his character, and leads us into a light timer gag that’s simple, but still perfect.
Through all of this, though, there’s the sense that Louie is still missing something. Aside from some small gags and, with them, perhaps a few small laughs (if you’re being generous), the story serves to tell us that Louis’ brother is a failure, and Louis is not. There’s nothing incredibly deep or incisive here, it’s just brothers confronting these facts in a way that felt both self-congratulatory and more than a bit mocking. As with “Cop Story,” by the end Louis bonds with the male schmuck-of-the-week, but beyond that there isn’t anything here.
Louis’ next story begins with him being beaten up by a woman on the street. While perhaps this is some strange attempt at feminism, instead it reads like an MRA pamphlet on talking to women while waiting for the bus. After that, Louis’ daughters laugh at him for being beaten up by a woman, and soon afterwards Pamela laughs at him for this. It’s a commentary on sexism that really does the show no favors, as it pretty much says all the wrong things. Afterwards things get even more confused on the sexual politics front, as one thing leads to another and soon Pamela is making Louis up as a woman, pretending to be a man, and screwing him (with an unseen strap-on?). Then she breaks up with him. Within all of this, there’s some weird gender essentialism and a story that equates fighting with masculinity and a loss of masculinity with being female that I just can’t get behind.
Unlike the first story, I have to give credit here for the show trying something new. And Pamela remains the saving grace for the show, unwilling to join in the rest of Louis’ pretension, and instead making both the show and its creator act like humans. But the almost random string of events here barely equated to a story, and while the events tied together through a theme, that theme was misguided. Maybe if you find the idea of Louis wearing a lot of eyeliner funny this will be interesting, but I just kept waiting for something bigger, something bolder to happen. Something to rip apart the easy reading of this story as a not especially funny mess. That’s pretty much how I’ve felt this entire season, though, so it should probably be no surprise by now that Louie just doesn’t have a punchline, or even a real destination. Instead the episode ends and we get more laughter about Louis being beaten up by a girl. Because that’s clearly the funniest thing ever, and worth another minute of airtime.