For those who aren't fans of surrealist, edgy sitcoms and thus aren't in the know, episode 4x03 of Louie premiered on FX last night. It was entitled "So Did the Fat Lady." There is a lot to discuss in this episode, and the internets have beaten us to the punch. But that doesn't mean we don't have our individual experiences to bring to the conversation.
The usual recap circuit, posted hastily in every corner of the web, did a fine job of summarizing the episode. But what have been most interesting are the deeper pieces. I'll cut to the chase of what's important about this ep so I can gloss over some of pieces on it out there.
The second act of the episode features Louie's interactions with Vanessa: a pretty, witty, outgoing lawyer whom Louie meets while she's waiting tables part time at the Comedy Cellar. She happens to be a woman of size, so though she flirts adorably with Louie, making him laugh and engaging him in banter, he keeps turning her down. Toward the episode's conclusion, she talks him into meeting for coffee, and the pair hits it off, spending an afternoon walking, chatting, and cracking jokes, until this happens:
"try dating in New York in your late 30s as a fat girl"
He interrupts to tell her that she's not "fat," and she launches into a 7 minute speech about the experience of being a woman of size including not only the invisibility of herself but also the invisibility of her lived experience, through silencing.
"It just sucks. It really, really sucks. You have no idea. And the worst part is I'm not even supposed to do this - tell anyone how bad it sucks - because it's too much for people. I mean you, you can talk into the microphone and say "I can't get a date," you're overweight, and it's adorable. But if I say it, they call the suicide hotline on me. Can I just say it? I'm fat. It sucks to be a fat girl. Can people just let me say it?"
"I'm going to go ahead and say it: it's your fault. Look, I really like you. You're truly a good guy, and I'm so sorry. I'm picking you, on behalf of all the fat girls. I'm making you represent all the guys. Why do you hate us so much? What is it about the basics of human happiness - feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us - that's just not in the cards for us? Nope, not for us. How is that fair? And why am I supposed to just accept it. "
"You know Vanessa, you're a very, really beautiful…"
"If I was (sic) a very, really beautiful, then you would have said yes when I asked you out. Come on, Louie, be honest here."
"Have you ever walked down the street in the light of day holding hands with a big girl like me? Go ahead. Hold my hand...You know what the sad thing is? That's all I want. I mean, I can get laid. Any woman who is willing can get laid. I don't want that. I don't even need a boyfriend or husband. All I want is to hold hands with a nice guy and walk and talk."
This ends with the two of them holding hands, and Louie tells the "and so did the fat lady" playground joke.
The first act of the episode is another mini saga about Louie's weight. He and his brother openly look summer shorts-clad women up and down on a NYC street while sweating in dark colored clothing. They determine they should begin a weight loss regimen tomorrow and as such should spend the rest of the day embarking on a "bang bang," their term for eating two entire meals back-to-back at two different restaurants.
There are raised eyebrows on the part of waitstaff, and there are shots of their mouths, stomachs, and many plates of food, but by the end of their second meal, they've decided not to go to the gym the next day after all. Louie does seem ashamed of their gluttonous ritual when his brother nonchalantly defines "bang bang" for an inquiring cute, young waitress. But it isn't enough to make him adhere to his weight loss plan. More significantly, nor does he seem to draw any comparisons between his self-loathing in that moment with the way he treats Vanessa. When she spells it out for him, he looks contrite but says nothing. She informs him that "studs" flirt back with her because they're not afraid for their status...
"But guys like you never flirt with me. Because you get scared that maybe you should be with a girl like me. And why not? You know, if you were standing over there looking at us, you know what you'd see? That we totally match."
There's a lot to unpack here, and the internet is here to help. Two great pieces can be found on Vulture, NY Magazine's pop culture blog. In one, a contributor for Vulture conducts an interview with actor Sarah Baker, who plays the episode's guest character role.