Louie 5×04 ‘Bobby’s House’: Be a man

Louie 5x04 Cover

People try to boil our identity down to a short list of words.  Strong.  Weak.  Male.  Female.  Smart.  Stupid.  These words help other people compartmentalize us, to the point where it’s easier to deal with the world around them.  Otherwise, people become so complex that we don’t really understand them at all, and if we don’t understand them, we don’t understand the world at all.  And the world is a horribly scary place when we don’t understand it.  But to compartmentalize other people is to keep ourselves from understanding the world, as well as the people around us.  And it makes the relationships we do have, as well as the expectations for ourselves, incredibly difficult to manage.

Louie 5x04-4

Source: FX

“Bobby’s House” is all about how our expectations of ourselves, as well as the expectations of those around us, ultimately damage us, to the point of keeping us from doing some of things we’ve set out to do.  It’s an episode cleanly split into two different vignettes, the first of which has Louie’s brother Bobby taking Louie to their uncle’s wake only to see that it was a different Jack that died.  It’s an episode that starts out with an act of ineptitude, and it makes sense that the episode does so.  “Bobby’s House” is full of ineptitude, and while it’s certainly irritating that Bobby took Louie to the wrong wake, it’s not the end of the world.

Louie 5x04-3

Source: FX

But the night spirals from there, as Bobby takes Louie back to his apartment and proceeds to dump all of his problems on him.  Bobby talk about how Louie has a career, an ex-wife, children, and how he has nothing.  No money to speak of.  No girlfriend.  No Twitter.  And his sperm don’t work.  It’s a comedic moment in that it’s such an absurd statement to make, but the entire way that Bobby focuses on his life is absurd.  As Louie says, he doesn’t have anything to really worry about other than his immediate concerns.  Bobby isn’t trying to have a child, so who cares what his sperm count is?  It’s not something to worry about until he actually needs to consider it in his present.  But all of the things that Bobby worries about are things that craft his identity and his self-worth.  Without money, a thin figure, or sperm, he’s worth less to other people.  He’s pushed into a compartment, where he’s deemed unworthy based on very specific criteria instead of a full assessment of all of the things that make him human.

Louie 5x04-1

Source: FX

The storyline concerning Pamela is certainly better than the first vignette, but that’s mostly because it sprawls a little more in the way that great episodes of Louie manage to do.  It starts off with Louie intervening in a fight going on between a couple, only to be viciously beaten by the woman in the couple, to the point that he has a couple bruises along his face.  When he gets home, his daughters laugh at him when he says that a woman beat him up (he’s initially apprehensive about revealing the gender of his assailant), and Pamela laughs at him as well.  Consider the fight though.  Since his assailant was a woman, if Louie hurt her, he certainly wasn’t going to look good in the eyes of the law.  But if Louie is hurt by her, he looks like a fool who was beaten up by somebody “weaker”.  The way society puts both Louie and his assailant into a gendered box, it makes it so that Louie cannot win, even though being beaten up by a woman doesn’t inherently decrease his value as a human being.  But since we as a society create this standard belief where woman are inherently weaker then men, and since we value masculinity over femininity, Louie cannot really win.

Louie 5x04-2

Source: FX

But it’s where the story gets really strange that “Bobby’s House” shines.  Pamela is turned on by putting make-up on Louie (who needs to have his bruises covered before he goes on stage), so she makes up his whole face and tells him that she’ll give him great sex as a result of it.  So she ends up giving Louie a very feminine appearance (and the name Jornatha) while she gives herself a masculine appearance (as she as Peter dons a baseball cap and uses a low-pitched voice), and dominates the sex by riding him and then flipping him over and fingering him.  It’s a hilarious and cringe-worthy inversion in the sex Louie is used to, where he’s feminized during the sex by giving control over to Pamela, who uses that control to accentuate her pleasure.  It’s a commentary on how we see sex as primarily for the pleasure of the man, where the woman’s pleasure is either a byproduct of it or a means for measuring a man’s sexual prowess.  Here, Pamela is the one that is taking pleasure from the experience, while Louie is really along for the ride.  In the end, Pamela breaks up with Louie after he tries to make them an item, mascara runs down Louie’s face as he cries, and Bobby laughs in his face while the credits roll.  End episode.

So what was the point, if “Bobby’s House” really just cuts Louie down to size?  It goes to show that Louie is willing to put himself into different roles in order to please the people around him, as we all are.  Even when Pamela breaks up with him at the end of the episode, he tries to take everything back.  We put ourselves in different roles in order to please those around us, whether we’re the tough guy, the fragile girl, the sad sack, or even people who identify as nerds, as nerds still act in a particular way to make other self-identified nerds comfortable.  We all want comfort in this world, but comfort betrays us.  Comfort puts us in relationships that aren’t what we want, situations that are just going to bore us or hurt us, and keep us from being the fully human people that we are.  Because we are fully human, and we should be able to experience life to its full capacity.

It’s just a matter of finding some way out of the boxes that everybody tries so hard to force us into.

So what do you think of Season 5 now that the season is halfway over?  Is it as good as the last 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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