It’s difficult to explain why I like Louis C.K. and his brand of humor. He has a realistic depressing outlook on life and chooses to laugh at things because laughing is better than crying. That’s my perspective on his comedy and I appreciate it as I live life in a state of mind that is often negative and hopeless.
I discovered Louie in late 2010 in my friends college dorm room late at night passing time before I went into work. His show appropriately named Louie was on FX and I saw the scene of him walking into a convenient store in a good mood buying a drink and ice cream while singing a song about shitting in Hitler’s mouth. It was several years after that first exposure that I really dove into his stand up specials and TV shows. In between that time My father died, my girlfriend dumped me, I formed a binge eating disorder, and my plans for life were shattered. After all of these events happened, I was able to appreciate the divorced depressed comic dad of two daughters suffering through life in the show Louie.
Earlier this year Louie C.K. created a mini series titled Horace and Pete. This show was entirely funded independently by Louie himself and posted on his website digitally for sale. Besides sending out an email to his mailing list the day the show was posted on his site, he did zero promotion. He wanted to see how well a show could do without any advertising, relying solely on the power of word of mouth. Louie believed the first couple episodes would sell enough to generate enough money to fund the last group of episodes. Once he realized money wasn’t coming in as fast as he needed it too, he went on a national promotion tour trying to get the word out on podcasts and radio shows. This is where I heard about Horace and Pete, Louie appeared on an episode of the Bill Simmons podcast early in 2016 to talk about the show.
Being the cheap asshole that I am, I didn’t buy the show via his website despite having a strong desire to watch. Last weekend I planned on watching the series and looked up how much the season would be to purchase. During my research I realized that Louie sold the show to Hulu to be streamed exclusively via their service.
Horace and Pete
This show is a darker version of Louie. It isn’t designed to be a comedy, in fact it is considered to be a tragedy by Louie himself. Being familiar with Louie’s previous work, parts of this show will come off as humorous based on the insane situations the characters find themselves in. Maybe that is just my sick sense of humor, but this show is extremely dark and sad, and the severe depression the show radiates makes me laugh. This show touches on my sensibilities when things become terrible, I laugh at how terrible things have become.
This show contains 10 episodes varying in length from 30 to 67 minutes. It focuses on a man named Horace (Louie C.K) whose father died a year earlier. Horace and his brother Pete (Steve Buscemi) are the new managers of the 100 year old bar named Horace and Pete’s. This bar was opened in 1916 by brothers named Horace and Pete, and they passed ownership of the bar on down to their son’s whom they named Horace and Pete, enforcing the tradition of the bar being operated by a Horace and a Pete who share the same bloodlines as the original owners.
Without spoiling much of the plot, Horace and Pete’s sister Sylvia (Eddie Falco) gets involved in the bar feuding with her brothers and the previous generations Pete (Horace’s uncle, played by Alan Alda) who still works at the bar. As the show progresses, you learn about the sad upbringing and life issues of all of the characters.
This show is shot like a studio sitcom where there are only two main sets and just a few scenes shot outside of the bar. It feels like a cross between a live play and a studio show when watching it, giving it a peculiar live feeling that meshes well with the strange plot. With a majority of the scenes being shot in the bar, many episodes are driven by the customers who visit the bar to drink. Conversations about politics, abortion, racism, homophobia, mental health, generational differences, and sex all make an appearance with unpredictable outcomes as alcohol lubricates the discussion. These scenes offer the viewer a welcomed break between heavy character driven moments.
The ambition of this show is one of its greatest traits. It is so cool that Louie created a show funded and written by himself without any network and business intervention. It is free of all the restraints normal shows are burdened with. My favorite episode of this show is the 3rd where only two actors are present in all 43 minutes. The show begins with a woman (played by Laurie Metcalf) telling a story with a close up shot of just her face. The camera doesn’t move for over 20 minutes as this woman goes into great detail telling her story. The rest of the episode is more of a two way conversation with Horace and this woman, but the whole episode revolves around one conversation sitting at a bar table. It is amazing TV.
Horace and Pete is dark, well written, well-acted, and most importantly, unique. Regardless if you like Louie C.K. or tragic situations, this show is original, standing out in the crowd of network TV shows and super hero internet streaming series. The creation of this show started with pure intentions with a goal of making something interesting and memorable. Horace and Pete will forever be considered as one of the best series by myself, and I believe you will share the same sentiments after watching it.