"Louie" – Season 1, Episode 2 “Poker/Divorce” Television Review

7/30/2010 Posted by Admin

"Louie" – Season 1, Episode 2 “Poker/Divorce”

Television Review

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Louis C.K.’s second outing is slight step backwards from the series’ genre-bending first episode. It takes on a Seinfeld-like structure with a more linear story-arc, interrupted by C.K.’s very related standup routine but loses the surrealist elements of its predecessor. All is not lost, however, as the show takes a much stronger stance toward message and tone than most half-hour comedies.  It keeps things interesting rather than hilarious. So, while “Poker/Divorce” isn’t as entertaining as the pilot, there still are plenty of surprisingly insightful monologues and expectedly humiliating plot points to ease viewers into the show.

The cold opening marks a first for the series as it dives head first into questions of comedy and, in this case, homophobic slurs. Centering on a poker game between Louis and his comedian friends, the group talks about homophobia in comedy routines as well as in daily life, placing the practice in a contemporary and historical context. It’s not a particularly hilarious scene, but it sheds some light on Louis’ own insecurities about his routine, while making a clear stance on prejudice in society.

Following the game, the episode rests on the idea of aging and divorce. C.K. sets up this segment with a hilarious bit on “Divorce: The World’s Worst Time Machine.” This eventually leads to a sit-com arc about C.K. getting divorced, lamenting over the past, and looking up a High School crush via the Internet.

C.K.’s view of relationships, youth and memory are poignant and occasionally insightful, but this story is not very funny. Most of the jokes revolve around Louis hating himself for not taking other chances and for getting so out of shape, without any real punch line or catharsis. The stand-up routines tie it all together, making the episode thematically consistent and, once again, it’s the funniest part of the episode.

For a show as experimental as "Louie," it’s not surprising that the first season would have its share of failures. The show is familiarizing itself with what works and what doesn’t, and this episode falls squarely into the latter category. The comedian is hilarious on-stage, and his ideas are perfect centerpieces for the show, he just hasn’t found a way to tie it all together. Nevertheless, the show’s ambition is reason enough to keep watching.

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