FX's "Louie" may be a comedy — and it is damn funny — but six episodes into its first season, it's also one of the bleakest, most unflinching series about isolation and death ever. Creator-comedian Louis C.K. takes the whole "sad clown" cliché to a whole 'nother level.
Death permeates every episode. When Louie tells a mother during their kids' playdate that he'll kill himself once his daughter turns 18 and he's no longer needed as a father, it feels more like a cry for help than a joke.
When he tells a heckler that comedians have no life, and that "the only good part of their lives" is the 15 minutes they spend on stage, you find it hard to believe he's happy even then.
And when he talks about how the best-case ending for a marriage is watching your wife die and then waiting for "your turn to be nothing," you kind-of want to cry. Forget the castaways on "Lost." This guy is lost.
A bitter divorce has left Louie numb, a shell of a man. Worse, middle age is destroying the shell. We watch as Louie scrutinizes his sagging, flabby body parts in the mirror (and it's a lot less pretty than when Courteney Cox "bravely" did the same on "Cougar Town.")
That Louis C.K. (whose last series, "Lucky Louie," misfired) can make all of this funny, let alone watchable, is pretty amazing. It's mostly because Louie spends more time bemused by his fate than bemoaning it.
"I'm really on the decline. There's never gonna be another year of my life that was better than the year before," Louie tells a comedy-club audience in an early episode.
So then why does it seem as though Louis C.K. is just getting going?