With the Gs away at camp and the NBA playoffs over, my television watching of late has been a little more, ahem, adult. Specifically I've been going through Season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Season 2 of Louie.
CYE is always funny, but I must say that the storylines have gotten a little more ridiculous, and the plots a little less credible. I know that's a stretch, but for me to enjoy a book or a show, I have to believe that the events are plausible within the parameters of the author's conceit. I just finished Game of Thrones, for example, and I feel like, for the most part, the author created a universe of believable characters, events and geography. Say what you will about loyal wolves, dragons and fifteen year-olds leading men into bloody battle; it feels right. I watched the CYE last night where Larry is testing the prototype of an in-car periscope, and the series of events in which the device helped them navigate difficulties on the streets of New York struck me as contrived--just a bit, but nevertheless. That's the line, and they crossed it.
What makes Louie so good (and someone on Slate called it a show for the ages today, mentioning it in the same sentence as the Wire) is how it shows the absurdities of life and the foibles of humanity in all their deformed absurdity. Bad things happen to good people; relationships don't work, and the main character most often ends his days sad and alone. The only comedy that I can think to compare it with is Freaks and Geeks. The agonizing situations in which the Michigan high schoolers found themselves would have been knee-slapping hilarious, if they didn't ring so painfully true. When Jason Segel serenaded a conflicted Linday with Styx and candles in his rec room, or James Franco turned punk, a part of me wanted to pull the blanket over my head. Anybody who went to high school in the eighties could find several such moments in every show.
But Louie is darker still; perhaps because the 43 year-old protagonist doesn't have the optimism of youth. That makes it hard to watch, but the crucial moments are so poignant that they complement perfectly the humor of his standup. It's doubtless difficult to squeeze an episode into 22 minutes, and as a result, sometimes certain plot devices can feel awkward or contrived, and the humor is a little vulgar for me, but it's unlike any show I know of, and I'm looking forward to catching up. I still have a couple of episodes from Season 2 to stream, and I've also asked Tivo to start recording Season 3. After that, who knows? The Gs will be back, and all we really need is one show to occupy an hour each evening. Any suggestions?