“There’s a toilet in the kitchen. So awesome.”
Does it matter that it was a Hasidic Jew who once showed me the shittiest apartment I’ve ever seen? For some outrageous price, Abraham (that was his name) tried to get me and my friend, both of us still in college, to live in a peeling, rotting residence in a shitty part of Williamsburg, Brooklyn? No, it doesn’t matter that he was a Jew, a Hasidic Jew at that, but you probably got a clearer picture of the story by my adding that detail in.
Last night’s episode of Louie, “Moving,” was about details, both large and small, like when our reluctant, balding hero moves a writing desk in his apartment and his daughter asks why. “No, momma put that there,” she says. “You’d better ask her.” Then she does an adorable ballet stretch that’s only the second most random scene in the episode.
His daughter’s protest makes Louis realize that there are too many ex-wife demons in his current apartment, so many details that would seem insignificant to most but are overbearing to him, and he decides it’s time to move. The world does not feel the same.
The first apartment he looks at is described as being modern and having plenty of space — it is neither one of those things. Then an apartment with a bathroom and a long hallway, and that’s about it. Then the bait and switch apartment, where Louis goes to the broker for one apartment, which never existed, and ends up looking at another, 17A (full walk-up), where the residence, an old Turkish man, is living out his days before he joins his wife in the afterlife, where he can maybe finally get a good egg.
Pamela Adlon, in her first appearance of the season, joined Louis to look at this apartment, and she quickly tires of his complaining and the old man not trying something new. She tells the Turkish man, “Your wife died a year ago, so your turn is up in a statistical month” (love that she got that much out of him in such a short amount of time), and to Louis, “You’re so afraid of life that you’re boring.” I loved “Moving,” but this remark kind of came out of nowhere, at least from the perspective of the audience and Louis (see next paragraph); it’s understandable that Louis wouldn’t want this apartment, from the smell of death to the walk-up of death, and her rage seemed unprovoked.
As for the most random, and maybe the funniest, part of the episode: there are two ways of reading the scene where Louis sees two men in suits swap one homeless person on the street for another: 1) as social commentary on how instead of actually doing something about our nation’s homelessness problem, the government instead just switches them around; or 2) as hilarious because homeless people on TV are funny. In fact, like secretaries on Murphy Brown, the homeless are becoming a revolving set piece, a recurring joke, on Louie. (Earlier in the episode, while old fashioned Louis is distractedly looking through classified ads in the newspaper, his friend, played by Todd Barry, suggests a project idea involving Louis’ mom being lowered into a bathtub full of diarrhea from homeless people.) And just like a toilet in the kitchen, it’s incredibly amusing.
Louis feels like shit until he walks by, and then in to, the apartment of his dreams, his $17-million-Lenny-Bruce-lived-there dream. This is, of course, a ridiculous amount of money, particularly for a comedian who’s not Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock and is still making monthly child care-support payments. Things get even more humiliating when Louis visits his accountant, who tells his client that he only has $7,000 in savings, less than 10 times the monthly mortgage. Not even Obama can help this middle class white male in need. (It was a nice touch, when after Louie says that he’s been performing at bigger venues, the second stand-up bit of the episode took place…at a bigger venue.)
But Louis wants, nay needs, the place, because as his imagination tells him, in the form of swirling around in circles with the Gallant Realty broker, played by Donna Hanover (the ex-wife of Rudy Giuliani), “buying this house would fix absolutely everything.” It would fix all the broken details in his life, beginning with his daughter saying she loves her mom more than Louis.
“Moving” ends with Louie sitting on the stoop of the house he’ll never be able to afford, staring at the door, a heartbreaking and relatable scene (I do this with every apartment I pass in the West Village). Finally convinced that he’s not going anywhere soon, Louis makes the best of a hopeless situation, takes Pamela’s advice, and does something: he paints his apartment a new color with the help of his daughters. It’s all in the details.
Josh Kurp is looking for a new apartment.