lauren paige kennedy
Photo by TIFF.
I don’t want to loathe Louis C.K. I like to think of him as a single dad full of foibles, trying to raise two girls into strong women as he grapples with his own messed up emotional life in frantic, digitally driven, often-alienating New York City.
I like Louis. I might even love him.
The realism of his FX sitcom “Louie,” now scrubbed from the cable network, is bone-cuttingly close, which is why it’s so absurdly funny, and why I’ve watched individual episodes, on repeat, countless times. He’s my adult version of “The Brady Bunch”: tune in, mouth the lines along with Lily and Jane and Pamela and Bobby—he even gave us a Bobby!—then laugh out loud, even when the joke is as familiar as a friend. Back in the 1970s I used to run home after school as a latchkey kid to watch Marcia & co. throw footballs, cut records, and woo Davey Jones. The Bradys made me feel safe in a chaotic, sometimes lonely world of divorce and confusion. Similarly, since 2010 “Louie” has been my entertainment comfort food, a funny alternative to “alternative facts,” bickering pundits, and increasingly stomach-turning cable news reports, after I’d put my own kids to bed.
Until the recent revelations of his own version of toxic masculinity came out in The New York Times, I even considered him a hero. A hero of what, you ask? Human frailty. And excess, be it food or sex or sleeping too much to escape. Even his incessant masturbation jokes came off as a pathetic plea, one he knowingly winked at as he invited us to laugh at, and along with, him—and not a menacing power play. (With the exception, of course, of the “rape” episode, “Pamela, Part 1,” a distressing plot line that should not be overlooked, or written off.) He let us know it was OK—even normal—to be a little uncouth, vaguely depressed, sloppy, enslaved to the indignities of bodily functions, bemused and bothered by parenthood, lost in a relationship, pathetic and even a bit pervy at times. His utter bafflement about modern adulthood sent a message: Hey. I’m just like you. I might not live or act like Louie (not Louis, but his lovable alter ego on the show), yet his unflinching, open book presentation of his many flaws is undeniably reassuring in this auto-corrected, Photoshopped era of never-ending filtered selfies and promoted, if fake, perfection.
Still, reel life and real life are two very different things. Because he’s not just like me. Or any of the female comics he wielded enormous power over as he entrapped them in his own warped way of getting himself off. As he and his team of male cronies knowingly stripped them of career advancement. And that’s just gross.
"Reel life and real life are two very different things.
Because he’s not just like me—or any of
the female comics he wielded enormous power over
as he entrapped them in his own
warped way of getting himself off."
So, I guess it’s over. For him, and for me. It’s a bummer, Louis. Like so many women I’m left wondering, “Why?” The man is exceedingly talented, which led to enormous fame and wealth. Why the need for him to literally rub it in our faces? What he’s accused of, and what he publicly admits to doing, is so egregiously hostile. To women and to girls. (Oh, what do his girls think of their father now? How can he face them?) The false front of using his own foibles as fodder is just that: an act.
Which means I never really loved you, Louis. Nope. Not at all.
And just like that, another hero takes a fall.