For something that is technically a comedy, “Louie” can be awfully intense. All of the episodes are funny, some of them are poignant, and most of them leave me with that heavy pit in my stomach that comes from the knowledge that humans are complex, terrible, fascinating creatures. There is endless comedy to be mined from this, and Louis C.K. is the best miner around.
“Louie” is a (perhaps loosely) fictionalized account of Louis C.K.’s life as a stand-up comedian and dad in New York City, and yet it somehow produced the most effective episode of TV about our troops in Afghanistan that I’ve seen. (The episode was even placed at No. 3 on Time’s list of the Top Ten TV Episodes of 2011.) Titled “Duckling”, the episode follows Louie’s USO experience when he travels to Afghanistan to do stand-up for the troops.
At some point, he discovers that his daughter put a duckling in his luggage for good luck. (It was his daughter’s turn at school to care of the class duckling). Throughout the episode, Louie struggles to keep the duckling safely hidden, until he and a few soldiers encounter a group of armed Afghanis. There’s some heated shouting and angry misunderstandings — until Louie’s duckling escapes from his bag, to the delight of everyone watching.