TV in Review: Louie, “Dr. Ben / Nick”
June 3, 2012 2 Comments
Louie’s opening monologue in this episode focuses on the body. Now comedy gets a bad rap at times for its focus on such matters, but there’s long been an association of comedy with the body. (Think of the fake phalli swinging in the breeze during Ancient Greek comedy. Please. Think about it.) I’m not wild about toilet humor, but whether it’s that or stories about sex, I appreciate when the comedian is thoughtful even as they revel in our animal nature.
LOUIE: I’m going to tell you how to have exactly the body you want. You just have to want a shitty body. That’s all it is. You have to want your own shitty, ugly, disgusting body.
Half of “Dr. Ben / Nick” involves the body — its degeneration as we age, and Louie’s visit to a doctor who he knows from high school. Here’s Louie with the nurse/receptionist, in a perfect picture of how the show does awkward.
LOUIE: I’m here to see, um, Ben — Dr. Mitchell.
And we’re excited because Ben — um, Dr. Mitchell — is played by Ricky Gervais.
DR. MITCHELL: I know what’s wrong with you.
DR. MITCHELL: AIDS.
LOUIE: I can’t believe you’re a doctor.
The other half of the show involves race. Louie addresses how offensive the term “Indian giver” is, followed quickly by a white comedy club waitress who complains about the black customers who she just knows won’t tip her. Louie calls her out, and then is chastised by a black waitress, who backs up the first waitress.
That conflict is then mirrored by comedian Nick DiPaolo’s racist anti-Obama act, followed by Louie calling Nick a Nazi. Perhaps the showing of competing sides is supposed to coax us into appreciating how complex racism is (and I agree that it is) but we’ve got one side (Louie) arguing for a historical understanding and another side (Nick) whining because he doesn’t get to say whatever he wants.
LOUIE: Poor little Nazis don’t like being called Nazis.
Louie doesn’t resolve these issues. Even the close over the credits has Dr. Mitchell calling Louie to inform him of all the horrible diseases he has, but he never drops the joking, so we’re left not knowing if the character Louie has any actual definable disease. Which is somewhat true to life. Full of unresolved racist incidents and undiagnosed physical problems.
FX first aired Season 1, Episode 3 of Louie on July 6, 2010.
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