Gay sex is something that Louis C.K. has joked about being amenable to, any number of times. He’s done so in ways that are thoughtful and funny and far from patronizing – a feat which partly explains the nearly universal appeal of C.K., and the reason he can do things like endorse Daniel Tosh’s awful rape joke this week and emerge mostly unscathed. It’s this kind of innate empathy and insight which separates the big “gay panic” beat of this week’s episode of Louie (which was set in, and entitled, “Miami”) from the prototypical Sandler-esque garbage.
When a moment of misunderstanding reaches its boiling point at the episode’s climax, and Louie has to defend himself from a polite accusation of homosexuality, he seems simultaneously concerned with: being mistaken for a bigot, being mistaken for a gay man, and confronting the fact that, on some level, he is perhaps at least the tiniest bit gay. It is at once hilarious and difficult to behold, which is a description that would be written on this show’s family crest, if ever there were such a thing. Here are the five most uncomfortable moments from this week’s episode.
1. Almost immediately upon arriving in Miami, Louie gets knocked over by an impossibly attractive collection of beachgoers, to whom he is invisible. Then, moments later, he gets halfway through taking off his shirt when these same toned torsos (not the exact ones, but there seems to be a minimum body fat percentage requirement to enter this beach) catch his attention, causing him to pull his shirt back down over his moobs and retreat to his hotel room for lunch and a nap. Interestingly, he passes out with much of his food left uneaten, as though he grew disgusted with himself halfway through the meal and had to escape through slumber.
2. Familiarity breeds not just contempt, but self-hatred. When Louie sees a fellow fat guy on the nearly deserted beach upon going back to visit later, it looks as though it absolutely crushes him to return the dude’s wave of solidarity. This is the only time either party feels comfortable enough to be out in the great sandy open, their respective girths un-gazed upon by beachbound angels.
3. The first of two monumental misunderstandings in the episode occurs when Louie sees his towel-wrapped wallet and other belongings scooped up by resort staff as he wades too far out into the ocean. His excited waving and yelling attracts the attention of affable Adonis lifeguard Ramon, who swims out to rescue Louie. The indignity of being put in the vulnerable, emasculating position of a “saved” person increases exponentially when Louie is unable to explain that he wasn’t drowning. Weirdly, the matter of Louie’s lost belongings is never touched upon again, so I guess we’re to assume that it’s beside the point.
4. For a brief while, there are no uncomfortable moments. Louie and Cuban-born Ramon bond over the fact that they both immigrated to the U.S. at a young age from south of the border (“Mi hermano!”), prompting the lifeguard to invite Louie to explore the Real Miami, through the magic of montage sequences. At the party they eventually hit up, there are at least three distinct forms of sexy dancing occurring on the ground level. Hovering on a balcony above it all, like a gargoyle, is Louie. Once again, his reality remains the same even in the Real Miami. It’s an ongoing theme of the TV show, and Louie’s stand-up: no matter how successful he gets, he will always feel out of place among the beautiful people.
Earlier in the episode, just before Ramon invites Louie out on the town, our hero finally lashes out at an immaculately stacked female – an entitled stunner who asks for a bite from his fruit plate as she walks by, simply taking it. “No,” he calls after her as she keeps walking. “You just ate a strawberry you can’t have.” But of course, as the woman is quick to point out, she’s already had it. Louie doesn’t have any better luck at the party, when he tries to talk to a pair of hotties from his perch on the balcony (they literally laugh in his face as they float down the staircase).
5. The most uncomfortable moment of the episode, however, easily ranks among the most uncomfortable moments on the series altogether. Hell, it’s right up there with awkward all-stars like Jon Favreau’s endless answering machine messages in Swingers or David Brent’s deliriously bad dancing on The Office. It starts when Louie has a moment of inspiration straight out of the movies: he decides to push back his flight for a couple of extra days and kick it in Miami with his new bud, Ramon. It’s a move that speaks to the difficulties many adult males have with making new adult male friends. On most shows, the episode might end here, with Louie heading off to have an epic bro-hang in the Real Miami. Instead, as Louie’s ex-wife Janet mentions over the phone after misinterpreting his statement that he “met someone,” changing one’s flight is the kind of thing a person usually does in order to spend more precious time with a love interest.
Pretty soon Ramon is suspicious of Louie’s motivation for hanging around the beach after he was set to leave. When the gay panic between them really begins to flare up (interestingly, without either party ever quite using the word “gay”), Louie tries to explain himself and sputters out for what seems like forever. Here’s a full transcript of this most cringiest of moments, which couldn’t possibly have been scripted: “Oh, no, no. But yeah, but that. Ramon . . . I’m not. I . . . you, you, you. I just, it’s. I don’t know if I’ve ever. I don’t know that I’ve ever. I’m not trying. I’m not trying anything to, and I don’t even know that I mean. I mean, I’m not.” This time around, though, Ramon the lifeguard can’t save Louie from drowning.
Last episode: A Set-up and a Punchline