I once heard a theory that when you are evaluating a piece of art, you should always assume that the creator is a genius. In other words, look for connections and nuance, if you see a greater theme or message, assume it was intentional.
I whole heartedly reject this theory. If something resonates with you, it’s good. If it doesn’t, then it’s not.
I tried with Horace and Pete. I really did. I thought it was great that Louis CK was able to write and shoot a show and distribute it on his own website for very little money. He’s put together a dream cast of Academy Award, Emmy, and Tony winners (even some Golden Globes, giving this show an off-brand EGOT). He even had a theme song written by Paul Simon for Christ’s sake! After a shaky start, I thought that episode three was the start of something interesting for the show.
But I just can’t anymore. I’m done with this show.
The opening argument over abortion was vile. I don’t know Kurt Metzger’s comedy or acting, only his reputation, which I will currently use to unfairly judge him. He plays the barroom character “Kurt” bug eyed, infuriatingly condescending, and bipolar intense. I can’t tell if he’s a great actor playing a vile person or a vile comedian playing a thinly veiled version of himself.
When challenged on whether or not he would want to choice to terminate a pregnancy, he replies, “I wasn’t born to have babies, I didn’t draw that straw. At a certain point isn’t there a certain obligation to live by what you are? What you happen to be? Does nature have any rights?” Actually, no, nature does not have any rights.
“Like if I get cancer I don’t just go oh well it’s my right not to have it so just cancer get out.” Actually, that’s exactly what you get to do. You have surgery to remove tumors, then you start chemotherapy. Then Uncle Pete says something to the effect of, “those baby killing whores go to hell.” That may be a misquote but, frankly, I don’t feel like looking up the actual line.
Why are we watching this boorish conversation? Let’s apply the writer as genius model. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for American discourse and loud men drowning out the voices of the women these issues actually effect. Even if that’s what this is – and I really don’t think it is – it’s sophomoric. The scene presents, without comment, the fact that there are ignorant assholes in the world. I knew that already and, frankly, I take great solace in the fact that so many of them are tucked away in bars on weekdays. What else ya got?
At the end of the episode Uncle Pete lectures Pete about never going down on a woman because it’s disgusting and how he’ll let a woman blow him but she’s disgusting if she does so. “How could you put yourself beneath a woman and ever expect to ever rise above another man?” Indeed, don’t deign yourself to acquiesce to a woman. This is sage advice coming from a lifelong dive bar bartender. For all of his talk of manhood, Uncle Pete is not a respectable man.
Is that irony supposed to be the point? Am I supposed to see an old fashioned dignity in his description of the sex that he finds appropriate between two people? Well, I don’t. Is the fact that he called Pete “son” supposed to move me because he’s acknowledging that he’s his father? I don’t care. Is Uncle Pete taking a gun to take the money to the night deposit and then the lingering shot on the closed door supposed to mean something? It’s like American commerce or capitalism or whatever? I just don’t care.
In between discussions of baby killing whores and the immorality and inherent weakness of performing cunnilingus, we were treated to a lovely performance by Nina Arianda. That last part isn’t sarcastic. I only knew from her appearances in Win Win and 30 Rock but she made an impression and I enjoyed her appearance as Horace’s booty call. (Yes, a Tony Award winning actress was cast at Horace’s booty call.)
Here’s the ultimate flaw of the show: I don’t care about Horace. His ex-employee and temporary sex partner Maggie enters and talks about her husband unexpectedly dying and I cared. In a matter of minutes, I cared about her. But I don’t care about Horace. I don’t care that he’s depressed or going through an existential crisis. I don’t care that he ruined his marriage and has strained relationships with his kids. I don’t need to see Louis CK rubbing his head multiple times an episode to convey indecision. I don’t care that his sadness ruined this booty call. It’s episode four, by now I should care.
Pardon the solipsism, but when someone I respect puts out something that I don’t get at all, it frustrates me. (Never get me started on Stella.) When I first saw this show, my gut reaction was that this is a below average fringe festival play that we’re all paying attention to because Louis CK wrote it. I didn’t want to be that cynical and I still don’t but, honestly, my opinion about it hasn’t changed. Curiosity might get the better of me and I might watch some more just to see what’s next – it is, after all, only two or three bucks – but I’m done writing about it.