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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The Rough Magic of "Louie"

Press Play By Matthew Seitz | Press Play August 25, 2011 at 4:50AM

In its own quiet way, the brilliant second season of Louis C.K.'s sitcom goes where no show has gone before
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In its own quiet way, the brilliant second season of Louis C.K.'s sitcom goes where no show has gone before

By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor

Louie, which is nearing the the end of its second season on FX, is the most reliably unpredictable show on television. You sit down to watch it each week not having the faintest clue what star-director-writer-editor Louis C.K. is going to show you or how. Sometimes he spends the show's allotted time block telling one full story. Other times he breaks his 22-minutes-plus-ads in half and delivers the TV equivalent of a couple of short stories. Within any given sequence, C.K. might stick with the show's dominant mode -- a slightly melancholy sitcom without a laugh track -- or he might shift into an extended dream sequence, a flashback or even a documentary of sorts.

The effect is remarkably fresh and engaging. Even when one of its inspirations doesn't pan out, Louie is always trying for something surprising and authentic, something other than the TV usual, and the tone is so open-minded and open-hearted that even when the show stumbles and falls, you rarely feel as though your time was squandered for no good reason. Every single week there are several moments when Louie wanders off whatever footpath you thought it was committed to and sprints off into the woods, heading wherever inspiration takes it.

You can read the rest of Matt's piece at Salon here.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in criticism. His video essays about Terrence Malick, Oliver Stone, Kathryn Bigelow, Budd Boetticher, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann and other directors can be viewed at the Moving Image Source, the online magazine of The Museum of the Moving Image website.

This article is related to: Television


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