In last night’s first episode of Louie, Louis C.K. and Sarah Baker had a profound seven minute conversation about what it’s like for overweight women in the dating world. It was compelling, thoughtful, and thought-provoking television that addressed a topic little discussed in TV, which is how much easier it is for overweight men to date than it is for overweight women.
Watching it I thought, well, this is the scene that’s going to spark 1,000 different think pieces, and it already has. It’s not an experience that I can honestly speak to, and some have argued that it’s not one that Louie can honestly speak to, either (the perspective of some critics changed once they learned that Sarah Baker had nothing to do with the script, and that it was entirely written by Louie). To that end, I appreciated Danielle Henderson’s post over on Vulture, which broke down what Louie got right and wrong about the speech, specifically the unfair notion that it’s not in the cards for an overweight women to be loved and chased after by men. Willa Paskin expressed similar issues with the speech, remarking that “a woman as confident and comfortable as Vanessa would not, I don’t think, imagine herself as the victim of her weight and blame guys like Louie as entirely as her speech suggests.” Paskin, like Henderson, thought that Louie’s insights into the male perspective were spot-on, but that his thoughts on behalf of overweight women were not completely accurate.
I would say only that Henderson and Paskin are both women, and they can obviously speak eloquently to the female perspective, but I’m not so sure that Louie’s insights into men were completely accurate for anyone except Louie and other male television characters. Not all men — or even most men — dismiss the idea of dating a woman completely because she is overweight. Just assholes. (Sarah Baker is attractive, and not someone most men would overlook because she’s not thin).
I thought, however, that Sarah Baker’s discussion about who fat women often feel invisible echoed much of what this woman profoundly said about living as an unattractive woman, and obviously, the issue of the double standard is apparent. You need only compare the Internet commentary surrounding last week’s episode of Louie, in which he slept with a character played by Yvonne Strahovski, and the second season episode of Girls, in which Lena Dunham slept with a character played by Patrick Wilson. No one really batted an eye at Louie sleeping with Strahovski, but Dunham fucking Patrick Wilson led to Internet meltdown.
Right or wrong, as The AV Club notes, at least Louie started a conversation, one that the Internet will probably be having all week. Let’s just hope it’s civil.
Here’s the amazing, seven-minute conversation.