Louie’s Oedipus Complex
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Louie and Date and Mom

Louie season five premieres this Thursday and I’ve been watching old episodes in preparation. Season one is still one of my favorite seasons of television ever. But there was always a strange detail that stuck out in my mind.

In Episode 9 “Bully”, Louie is at the end of a first date. Instead of a drink at the end of the night, he suggests getting donuts at an old donut shop. It goes well at first and looks like it could be a charming date move. But Louie is then humiliated by a high school bully. The encounter ends with Louie’s date saying “I’m sorry but that was a turn-off.”

In episode 11 “God”, Louie, as a child, is treated to a graphic explanation from a morbid physician about Christ’s physical experience on the cross. It was creepy enough but the doctor was played by Tom Noonan, the serial killer from the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter. In a fit of panicked guilt, Louie breaks into the church at night, pleading with the crucifix to forgive him. The next day, Louie has a heart to heart with his mother about Catholicism and how much to believe in it, or, most likely, not.

They’re both great episodes. But Louie’s date and Louie’s mom are played by the same actress, Amy Landecker, or as I like to call her, the hot neighbor from A Serious Man.

Not only that but in “God”, after their conversation, which was great and heartfelt and, even in that brief window into her life, makes you feel for Louie’s mom, she says, “you want to get some donuts?”

Donuts. Dates. Mom. Emasculation. What the hell is going on?

I feel like there are a few possible explanations. One is that Louie liked Amy Landecker so much that he cast her twice without realizing the connection. I reject this theory even as I put it forth for argument’s sake. Two is that it was intentional but with no real meaning behind it. Louis CK has taken liberties with his casting and characters. At one point he has a brother, then a pregnant sister, then a mentally unstable sistser. He had a niece who was going to live with him. She was only in one episode. His ex-wife was unseen, though, we did see a white actress’s hand sign divorce papers in an episode. Then, when we meet Louie’s ex-wife, she’s played by a black actress. At least four different actors have been cast to play Louie at younger ages. I actually enjoy the fluidity. Each episode is part of the series but also stands on its own a bit. So, maybe it’s not supposed to mean anything.

The third and last option is that he’s trying to say something about mothers and, perhaps, the psychology of men and women and what it is that we really seek in a mate. Louie’s date in “Bully” talks about her instincts telling her that the guy in front of her is weak and a loser. Louie is upset that she’s listening to her lizard brain but there he is across the table from a woman who looks like his mother enjoying the same treat that he used to enjoy with her.

I’m often annoyed at the level of analysis that Louis gets but this easter egg, in particular, always puzzled me.

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