“Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 1” was about as adorable an episode of Louie as my girlfriend could hope for. From the title alone one could guess that the episode would follow Louie on a bit of a quest for a female companion suitable for not only himself but also his daughters, but with Louie you really never know what to expect. This time around, however, was pretty straightforward and simple, without any fancy techniques to convey any complex concepts; just Louie looking for love. Nevertheless, the episode was still a very clever and honest examination of the personal insanity that such an endeavor fosters.
The opening stand-up from C.K. found him explaining to the Comedy Cellar audience the technical meaning of prejudice via the example that Louie would like to fuck Scarlett Johansson despite never having met the woman and assuming it would simultaneously be the best thing that’s ever happened to him and the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. I don’t know about you guys, but I never tire of Louie’s self-deprecation, mostly because I share many of his insecurities, but also due to the honesty and modesty with which C.K. dispenses his autobiographical put-downs. The fact that he is in no way fishing for sympathy is what makes it work.
The contemplation of prejudice was sparked by an inquiry from Louie’s oldest daughter, Lilly, whom is consistently characterized as a very precocious child, something that played a key role in “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 1”. Usually children characters on sitcoms are one-note caricatures or barely defined at all other than as mere plot points, but Louie’s kids not only inspire many of the plots, but are fleshed out as much more than the typical saccharine-sweet, innocent darlings for whom the series’ protagonist struggles. Each of Louie’s daughters is gradually developing into distinct personas, the elder often exemplifying the genuine intellectual curiosities of a young person coming to terms with those cognitive concepts which she is only beginning to wrap her head around, and the younger usually providing the simple yet true, comedic flipside reactions to those concepts.
The scene following the opener found Louie and his daughters having lunch at a diner wherein one of the more commonplace inquiries of his daughters led to the girls wondering very candidly in front of their father when he would get a girlfriend. I loved the authenticity of this scene from Louie stealing one of his younger daughter’s French fries, calling it a tax, to the sneaking suspicion that Lilly brought up her mommy’s “pretty funny” friend, Patrick, purposefully to broach the topic of when their daddy will find a girlfriend. Either way, how sweet is it that the girls appear to genuinely want their father to find someone? I loved how they went from casually informing Louie of Patrick to discussing with each other like a couple of old, grizzled gossips how Louie will find love when he meets the right woman.
This of course sets Louie on his mission with newfound focus. His first attempt is within his comfort zone as he asks a fellow comedian, Maria Bamford, a truly talented performer whom you may recognize from The Comedians of Comedy Tour with Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis, to hang out after enjoying her set at The Comedy Cellar. The scene cuts to the two of them lying in bed after having some pretty bad sex. Not the gimp in Pulp Fiction bad, but just unsatisfying enough for Maria to ask for a second go around to hopefully make up for the first. In the meantime, the two are vacantly watching a surreal depiction of a Real World-esque reality show in which the requisite gay male roommate hauls off and stabs one of the obligatory pretty blondes with a giant butcher knife. This was the best Real World parody I’ve seen since Dave Chappelle’s “Mad Real World” sketch. Considering how terribly things go with Maria, I’m inclined to believe this bit of background absurdity was by no means accidental. After ruining the already pretty dour vibe by asking Maria to have dinner with him and his kids, a move that very understandably leaves Maria feeling “all dicked-up in the head” (a phrase I fell in love with after I heard Sweet Dee use it in the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Christmas special), Louie is left no more closer to finding a companion than he was before he heard how bad at sex he is.
After dropping Lilly off at school, Louie progresses a bit by moving out of his comfort zone to becoming enamored with the idea of hitting it off with one of the teachers. You can tell because of the not at all subtle but completely apt 50s doo-wop that played in the background during the fantasies which appeared in black and white. These fantasies ranged from picaresque scenes of a pretty teacher laughing with Lilly to a less than romantic shot of a less conventionally attractive teacher bluntly letting Louie know she only likes it from behind. The contrasts these fantasies created established that epic, cavernous divide we all experience when hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
Eventually Louie tries his hand once more at an independent book shop where his black and white doo-wop fantasy scenarios continue on and are applied to the attractive clerk played by Parker Posey, an actress whose comedic performances are nothing short of immaculate such as in For Your Consideration or the third season of Parks and Recreation, among others.
Episodes of Louie are usually paced and structured exceptionally well but both of these qualities feel especially on point in “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 1” as its three acts generate effective momentum leading up to the big moment in which Louie exasperatingly asks out the book shop clerk. This last act was certainly the most conventional of the episode yet also that which rang the truest, or at least was the most universally relatable. Having not been single for longer than six months in the last ten or eleven years, I don’t have a ton of experience asking out women, however, I imagine that more often than not the instances which seem to matter the most, those for which one is most nervous, require more than just one shot; there’s usually at least a couple encounters which constitute a build toward popping the question and this instance was no different.
After their first encounter in which Posey’s character is at once “massively helpful and terrifying” in recommending a book for Lilly, we see Louie shaving in the mirror, basically the contemporary male’s version of donning battle armor before engaging in mortal combat. The second encounter in which Louie returns to the shop and asks her out is excruciatingly cute or just plain excruciating depending on one’s tolerance for long-winded, awkward preambles to asking someone out on a date. In this case I found myself in the former category as Louie’s little speech was more than just inept ramblings or even really funny lines (such as Louie’s insistence that he doesn’t mean to react to her kindness by “torpedoing toward [her] vagina,” or his assurance that were the two to go out, “nothing horrible will happen to [her]”), but in fact illuminated what I believe is a very authentic reality for nice, attractive women – the barrage of people who take for granted these women’s existences as human individuals and objectify them, even flatteringly, such as when Louie puts this book shop clerk on a pedestal as he does Scarlett Johansson.
I know I’m guilty of such objectification. When I first saw the young woman whom I’ve now been in a relationship with for almost five years, I assumed she was just another beautiful girl I’d never really get to know and we didn’t really talk until several weeks later when she initiated the conversation. But being a thoughtful – okay, neurotic – guy in the arguably “post-feminist” 21st century, it’s difficult not to perceive as Louie did one’s approach to asking out a woman as some sort of offense on her. The irony is such an attempt at being considerate is that which cultivates the aforementioned objectification.
Ultimately, Posey’s character, whose name I’m sure we’ll learn in “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2”, accepts Louie’s proposal with good humor and appreciation, but also just the right amount of playful disdain as she tells Louie to “get some confidence for Christ’s sake,” something that would do Louie and the rest of us modern men some real good.
Considering all the build up of “Part 1” as well as how endearingly eccentric the book shop clerk has been so far, I’m legitimately intrigued to see how “Part 2” unfolds. Because of the origin of Louie’s newfound quest, I can see this depending largely on how well Posey’s character and Louie’s daughters mix. I’m sure “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2” will be just as thorough and complete as “Part 1” was, and bring full circle the madness which defines the search for the love of a good woman.