So we’ve entered into the new season of some great American cable tv shows being back on the air here are some of my favourites.
The show took a little while for me to warm to, it seemed like it wasn’t quite sure if it was supposed to be narrative driven or if was a series of vignettes or sketches, and it just didn’t seem to be that funny. In fact I’d been a little disappointed because years before Louis C.K had made a noble attempt to show there was still potential in the format for the traditional, studio audience sitcom with Lucky Louie. It did this at a time when it was the height of un-fashion and people thought all comedy had to be like The Office, so it was cancelled after a season and was slightly misunderstood. It’s amazing that in some cases people still don’t quite grasp the difference between a show with a studio audience and a show canned laughter.
So what was needed was for me to get this show was for me to change my expectations and approach. It's best just to see each episode as its own self-contained short film or pair of short films, with Louie’s stand-up commenting on the themes of the episode. Once I got over that, my enjoyment of the show increased exponentially.
The tone varies from episode to episode with some taking on a more light-hearted approach and other being more dark and dramatic. On the whole it should be seen as a series about the isolation and alienation of a comedian and single father living in New York with some comedic, surrealist and dramatic elements. Louis C.K Writes, Stars, Acts, Edits and I’m sure does various other bits of production work on the show. It’s become a cliché to say this, but it’s a true “auteur” project and probably the most idiosyncratic show on television at the moment.
Starting out as an internet series the show then made the glamorous transfer to late night cable television. As creator Rob Corddry put it, the show was in a low stakes bidding war between comedy central and adult swim. As it turned out adult swim offered them slightly more creative freedom which was more important than money.
Even before the switch to television the show managed to look fantastic considering it was so cheaply made. Now in its 3rd series the cast has become increasingly impressive with some of the best American comics and television stars popping up throughout the course of the show.
The show itself started out as a parody of various Hospital drama’s, its approach is similar in some ways to that of Airplane and other Zucker & Abrahams films. Despite the lack of much character or story consistency (which the show has commented upon) the series has also managed to build up its own running jokes over the course of the series; for example that the hospital is located in Brazil and everything about the show seems to contradict this idea until in a recent episode where two of the characters walked through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. You’ve got to love pointlessly expensive and time consuming jokes like that.
The show also frequently plays with its own format almost every week; it might parody a different genre, do a mockumentary episode or do an episode of the show set in the 70’s.