Why Louie Gets Credit for Being Original Even When It Isn’t

June 17, 2014 3:03 PM

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Why Louie Gets Credit for Being Original Even When It Isn’t

Louis C.K. occupies a unique position in the cultural firmament. He’s the secular saint of regular Joes—smarter, funnier, blunter, and more vulnerable than most middle-aged dads in t-shirts, and yet, still, a middle-aged dad in a t-shirt. He’s the ultimate explorer of male feeling, going further, going deeper, going weirder. C.K.’s personal gravitas is such that for some members of his audience he has developed a Madonna-like variation on the Midas touch: Everything he caresses seems to have been touched for the very first time. But he is not quite so trailblazing as some of the show’s biggest fans seem to think—and with the season finale, C.K. tried to tell them so.

C.K. and Louie are both genuinely original and idiosyncratic, but this has overshadowed the ways in which they are not, in fact, all that original. Yes, many Louie episodes exhibit a flagrant disregard for TV conventions, for standard episodic structure, for punchlines, for logic; its best installme...

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