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Lucky Louie: In Praise of a Classic TV Show

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by Jon Friedman
May 22, 2013 8:33 AM
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I do a lot dumb things. 

I leave the house without my keys. I once dropped my iPhone on the Third Avenue concrete. I sometimes overdue it when I work out and wind up feeling like a wounded weekend warrior. I spend way too much time watching New York Yankees and New York Rangers games on television. 

And speaking of TV, I missed watching HBO's Lucky Louie show when it was on the air in 2006.

The TV sitcom created by Louis C.K. was on for only that one year. The terrific stand-up comic was also the writer, star and executive producer. I recently came across the reruns on HBO while channel-surfing one night -- the Yankees had probably been rained out or the Rangers got blown out that evening -- and I was hooked right away.

Like you, I've seen hundreds of sit-coms on TV. What could possibly be left to say? What was left for me to appreciate watching at home? Louis played a schlumpy, good-hearted mechanic who had a strong-willed wife and a requisite adorable little kid. 

But it worked. Louis C.K. plays the part without any pretense and lets the sharp writing stand out. He comes across as a rather selfless actor. But the real catalyst of the show is the actress Pamela Adlon,who turns the 

role of the put-upon TV comedy wife on its head. 

Pretty, spunky and worldly wise, her Kim has the zing of Alice Kramden, the loyalty of Edith Bunker and the (well, almost) zest for cussing of Susie Greene. She is an entirely winning character. 

Plus, I get the feeling that she well represents a large segment of American women who are resolved to be happily stuck in her financial situation -- working much too hard (as a nurse) for not too much money. Just as Archie Bunker stood for something significant on American TV, so does Kim, Louie's wife on the show. 

Louie was too smart to turn Lucky Louie into a show With a Message. The social commentary is implicit, like it should be. If I want life lessons, I can read Reader's Digest. I want to be entertained when I watch TV.  If I also get an education of sorts, then even better.

And the show was on for one season -- 12 episodes! How could this be possible! This show should have had a run of many years.It should have had the traditional sit-com arc -- marital discourse, and all of that. 

But it didn't. Too bad for me and the rest of the show's fans, especially the folks who slavishly watched it when it was on in 2006.

I suppose this show was the victim of the Syndrome -- how TV executives don't give a raw, new, promising show an opportunity to grow and find a sizable audience and vice versa. This is nothing new. But it stinks, just the same.

Why can't network execs be savvier and more patient with talented people?

Of course, HBO aired Louis C.K.'s stand-up comedy special earlier this year. I enjoyed it, too, but I wish HBO had shown more episodes of Lucky Louie, just the same. 


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