Louie 5×03 ‘Cop Story’: Who are you?

Louie 5x03 Cover

We would like to think that we aren’t judgmental.  We would like to think that we understand the world around us, the people around us, and ourselves.  But we are all very judgmental.  We use assumptions and judgments as a way to craft the world around us, and not only that, but also to reinforce that our identity and place in the world is worth something.  Baby boomers like to think that millenials are lazy and entitled while millenials like to think that baby boomers are selfish fools who trashed the economy and the environment for their personal gain.  It’s part of the story, but not even close to the whole.  Because we’ll never know the whole story.  It’s far too complicated to even begin to fathom.  People are enigmas even to themselves, so our own judgments are too absurd to even begin to be called “reality”.  So what is real?

Louie 5x03-2

Source: FX

“Cop Story” operates in a way that seems more fantastical than anything else.  The conversation that Louie has with Andrea in the cookware store isn’t one that would happen in real life, but it works to show a fantasy, the fantasy that two strangers are honest and accepting of each other.  It shows Andrea and Louie breaking from their personal perspectives to understand the other.  Andrea isn’t very accommodating of Louie when he asks for a certain kind of cookware, and she doesn’t really care when he’s frustrated by that.  She knows that Louie wants to believe that he’s a good cook, that he wants his ego stroked because he’s insecure.  And she knows that he’s afraid of getting older, of his antiquated ideas (that customer service is “all about the customer”) being useless, of younger people taking his place.  But that’s how the world works.  The old train the young to inherit the world.  The young become old and do the same.  And so on and so on.  Instead of Louie coming out of that conversation validated, he comes out with a new perspective.

Louie 5x03-3

Source: FX

What Louie is trying to say here is that we, as a people, don’t stop enough to consider new perspectives.  We’re so insecure and lonely that we will do anything and everything to validate our existence.  But that’s a self-defeating mentality, considering that our validation is false, standing in place instead of moving forward.  The segment with Andrea thematically bleeds into the segment with the cop Lenny, an old boyfriend of Louie’s sister that wants to get together with him and catch up.  Only Lenny is extremely obnoxious, to the point that his presence on the screen is almost unbearable.  He punches Louie (jokingly), he points his gun at him, he makes fun of him, he’s loud, and he only wants to talk about himself.  There are hints that something is wrong with Lenny, as he becomes sorrowful after his badge won’t get him into the game, but Louie isn’t picking up on them.  Just as Lenny’s narrow way of interacting with others blocks out Louie, Louie’s judgment of Lenny blocks out any human perception of Lenny.  There’s a wall set up in between them, and in a real situation like that, that wall wouldn’t be crossed.

Louie 5x03-1

Source: FX

But the Lenny segment works as Andrea’s did, where after Louie berates Lenny for being a jerk, Lenny retorts by telling Louie that he doesn’t care about him either.  While Lenny is being a jerk, Louie is being extremely judgmental, and doesn’t really care to think of Lenny as a human being.  But, when Lenny loses his gun, it humanizes him to the point that Louie has to listen.  All Lenny really has left is his job as a cop, even if he absolutely hates it.  He already wants to kill himself; he has nobody in his life that cares about him and he doesn’t care much for himself.  Without his job, he’s nothing.  So Lenny breaks down and sobs, panicking that his life is over.  So Louie takes the time to leave his apartment and find the gun, which he ends up doing, much to Lenny’s delight.  When people finally come to understand each other, that’s when real connections can be made.  Louie’s understanding of Lenny’s predicament is what causes them to forge that bond.

For an episode of Louie, this is kind of a simple idea, that we need to hold off on judging each other in order to create real relationships.  But it makes sense within the context of the season.  The last two episodes have featured instances where Louie tries to bond with those around him, but cannot get past a difference in opinion.  Here, in “Cop Story”, Louie reiterates this fact, one that we know deep down but don’t care enough to remember.  Life can’t be all about us.  We have to make ourselves healthy and happy, but we have to remember that doing so means subjecting us to perspectives and opinions that make us uncomfortable.  And discomfort is just part of being human.

So what do you think of Season 5 so far?  Was “Cop Story” as good as the rest of the season?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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