Before we get to the meat of this post, let me just say: The second season of One Mississippi is wonderful. Poignant, funny, heartbreaking. It captures what it’s like to be a liberal outlier in the South. It brilliantly makes the distinction between eschewing labels but also owning one’s identity. It tackles sexual harassment and the trauma of childhood sexual abuse in knowing and painful ways, and it successfully captures the realization as an adult that some of those things that happened to you as a kid were not OK, that you had every right to feel uncomfortable and uneasy, and that the monsters in our lives often wear the masks of our friends and grandparents and cousins. It was familiar territory for me, and while I’m not going to get into that, Tig Notaro nails it in One Mississippi. It’s a spectacular season and everyone should watch it, and if you haven’t seen the first season yet, watch it, too.
But then, it also takes aim at Louis C.K. in a very pointed way.
Briefly, a recap: There are a number of rumors going around that Louis C.K. has assaulted a number of female comedians by masturbating, with them in the room. Louis C.K. has barely acknowledged these rumors except to say that he won’t acknowledge the rumors because to acknowledge them would be to give them life.
A couple of weeks ago, Tig Notaro took aim at Louis C.K. — who is an exec producer on One Mississippi by name only — over on The Daily Beast:
“He’s never been involved,” she clarifies. When I tell her that most people who watch the show probably assume he plays some role since he’s listed as an executive producer, she says, “I know they do.”
“It’s frustrating, because he has nothing to do with the show,” Notaro adds … “But yeah, he has nothing to do with the show,” Notaro repeats for the third time, without using C.K.’s name.
Notaro also said that Louis C.K. should get a handle on those sexual assault allegations, and then said that she’d be tackling that issue on One Mississippi:
“I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted,” Notaro says in response. “It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious.”
“And that’s what we want to do with this show,” she continues. “We of course want to create comedy, but we also really, really feel like we have the opportunity to do something with One Mississippi, because it does not stop. And, you know, I walk around doing shows at comedy clubs and you just hear from people left and right of what some big-shot comedian or person has done. People just excuse it.”
What I didn’t realize is just how overtly Notaro would take aim at Louis C.K. I assumed she would make a passive allusion to Louis C.K., but in the fifth episode of the season, Notaro is pretty aggressive about it. The episode involves a character played by Notaro’s real-life wife, Stephanie Allynne, who also plays Kate, Notaro’s producer on One Mississippi.
Kate goes into the office of a man named Jack Hoffman (Timm Sharp) who runs a radio station network. Jack asks Kate to close the door behind her, and when Kate sits down to pitch her show idea, Jack ignores what she’s saying and instead unzips and jerks off under his desk while listening to Kate. It’s an awkward, uncomfortable scene, as you might imagine.
When Notaro’s character confronts the owner of the radio station network afterwards, he expresses some sympathy. Kind of. “There were rumors,” he says, “I just thought, ‘It can’t be. He’s so progressive.’”
And then the station owner tries to make excuses for it, and then he suggests that Jack will be fired, but he still frustratingly insists on going through HR channels and engage in an investigation. “So, he just gets to masturbate at everyone while they’re looking into it?” Notaro asks.
“I can’t imagine he’ll masturbate at everyone,” the owner dismissively responds. And then he basically proceeds to sweep it under the rug.
How pointed is that toward Louis C.K.? I guess you can draw your own conclusions. As for the response of Louis C.K.? In an interview with the NYTimes in Toronto yesterday, he said he didn’t know why Notaro said those things about him.
“I don’t know why she said the things she’s said, I really don’t,” he replied, adding, “I don’t think talking about that stuff in the press and having conversations over press lanes is a good idea.”
Personally, I hope the press asks him about it every single time he sits down with them.