Context means a lot in comedy, and knowing who Louis C.K. is, what his gender politics are, and understanding where his character is on Louie at least allows us to understand that Louis was probably trying to make a point with that incredibly awkward scene last night. It was tense, and uncomfortable, and I don’t even know if Louie got away with it, but I do know that no one else could have even come close.
In fact, I think all of us in the online media are feeling a little skittish about the scene this morning because this is the Internet, where Louis C.K. is adored, but where issues surrounding gender are incredibly charged. All I can do is to be honest and say that the scene made me really uncomfortable, but I’m willing to given the benefit of the doubt to Louis C.K. and assume that it was designed to prove a larger point that’s tied up in a season that also included a scene in which Louie accidentally punched a woman (played by Yvonne Strahovski) and pressured another woman who didn’t speak English into having sex with him.
For those who didn’t see the scene, it’s not yet available online in video form (as far as I’ve seen), although Chet Manley over on Uproxx has the GIFs. First, some context: Early-season Louie was madly in love with Pamela, who has always been cruel to him in a familiar, friendly fashion, like someone who verbally punches as a form of flirting. However, she left the country and broke Louie’s heart. Cut to this season. Pamela returns and finally expresses some romantic interest in Louie. However, Louie is in love with a woman named Amia, though he knows because she has to return to her home country that his relationship with her is ultimately doomed.
When the relationship with Amia inevitably ends, Louie goes back to Pamela to see if she’s still interested in him romantically. Her response is basically, “F*ck you, Louie. That ship has already sailed.” She does, however, agree to babysit for Louie, but when Louie returns home, Pamela is sleeping. Louie decides to “be a man,” which is what Pamela has wanted from him all along, and make a bold move.
Pamela rejects the bold move, but Louis persists.
Now, you can see why the scene was so awkward.
Pamela eventually very reluctantly agrees to let Louie kiss her, mostly just to get him to let her leave, and even that is horribly uncomfortable.
After she leaves, Louie inexplicably expresses triumph because he finally kissed the woman he’s been smitten with for years.
So, uh, what is the larger point Louis C.K. is trying to make here? Besides the fact that Louie is in a place where he feels so dejected and desperate that he’d force himself onto Pamela? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he’s allowing himself to be demonized in order to further some of the notions that he pushed in his stand-up special about the fact that there is no greater threat in the world to women than men.
I guess my concern, however, is that he’s going to continue to push this theme he’s been developing all season long about the dangers of men too far, and that in next week’s 90-minute episode, it’s going to get even darker. He’s punched a woman unconscious, he’s pressured another woman into having sex with him, and he’s literally forced another woman into kissing him against her will. Where else can he go with this, and can he continue to push it without essentially assassinating an already damaged character?
I don’t know, but my guess is that next week’s episode will be incredibly uncomfortable, and that it will challenge us, and that it will probably piss a lot of people off.
GIFS: Chet Manley