Louie: The Complete First Season (Fox)
New York comedian Louis C.K. designed his first (short-lived) sitcom (which he made for HBO) around the life of a thirtysomething guy with a wife and young family. Now he’s a divorced father of two and his life is once again the inspiration for his amazing FX series Louie, a sitcom by strict definition but not like any you’ve ever seen. Playing essentially a version of himself, he’s a working comedian, a devoted (if sometimes overwhelmed and confused) dad and a fumbling forty two-year-old single man in a dating scene he doesn’t feel comfortable in and shows work through these and other situations (a visit to the doctor, taking on a heckler) without the usual sitcom structure.
Like Seinfeld, the shows are framed by his stand-up act but the resemblance ends there. Drawing from everyday events of his own life, “Louis” finds the absurdity in the mundane and pushes the envelope of offensiveness and discomfort as it explores the very concept of what is offensive and why. And sometimes Louis C.K., who also writes and directs every episode of the first season, creates sublime moments of humanity captured under the lens. “Bully” (episode 9) is like nothing else I’ve seen on TV, at once uncomfortable, frustrated, scared, angry, curious and, finally, open to the fact that life is complicated beyond our ability to encompass and the best that we can do is share our limited understanding with one another.