In sharp contrast to the season premiere which changed plot focus from scene to scene, “Model” sticks to one narrative throughout. However, it still maintains Louie’s quality of being tonally in flux. The result is a more satisfying storyline than that of the previous episode while still featuring all the emotional trappings of this series at its best.
Much of “Model” really plays up Louie as a Charlie Brown type. He’s a poor schlub, ill-fitted to function in society, making him such a consistent loser that the characters around him seem exhausted by his very being. Take the girl at the comedy club at the beginning of the episode who cuts him off before he can ask her out: “Just don’t ask. I don’t wanna live that right now, okay?” As the other girl at the club then explains: “Dude, you gotta stop asking everybody out. Can’t ask everybody. You think people like saying no? Takes its toll.”
Jerry Seinfeld shows up for a good chunk of the episode, giving a Louie a gig opening for him at a heart disease benefit, though he appears doubtful of his decision to ask Louie from the start: “Can you get yourself there? Can you work clean? Can you not curse? Can you not… say dirty sex… poop… dogs… having sex… with vagina dirt?”
Seinfeld gives a really great performance here. He’s the perfect comic for this role—the refined, societally-acceptable professional trying to help out his awkward, grubby friend. It gives Jerry and Louie a sort of father-son dynamic wherein the dad has to help the kid out but is expecting to be disappointed by him from the start, so invariably, disappointment is what he gets. Louie’s performance at the benefit is a stunning train wreck; the crowd just doesn’t jibe with him from the get-go and his only prepared joke is a line he’s written in a notebook while on the bus to the gig: “Chickens are dumb.”
However, “Model” is arguably a positive episode, not so much in terms of the actual definition of the word “positive,” but at least positive by Louie’s standards. It’s an “every dog has its day” kind of episode as the only girl in the audience who appreciates Louie (though as an anachronism of sorts more than anything else) takes him back to her fancy Hamptons’ home and has sex with him. And she happens to be played by Yvonne Strahovski [geek points for the Mass Effect game series and the series Chuck], who, if you haven’t been paying attention, is a babe.
Their conversation after Louie bombs, yelled back and forth across a parking lot, as well the general weirdness of Strahovski’s largely untalkative and therefore largely unknowable character puts the scenes with her in that strange unreality the show so often occupies. It also features a beautiful shot of Louie waiting uncertainly on a beach as the girl goes running for a swim at twilight.
The impact of Louie’s interactions with this girl is, unfortunately, a little downplayed by the episodes of Louie that have come before it. Lying in bed with her, Louie states that women like her don’t “usually take me home and have sex with me.” But the fact of the matter is that previous episodes render this not entirely true. Louie already got with a total fox who found his age alluring back in Season 1. And, frankly, the majority of women he’s gotten involved with over the course of the series have been odd, almost alien types who have forced him to accompany him on unpredictable and befuddling adventures. So, while I appreciate the concept here, it comes across, to an extent, like a retread.
That aside, I love how “Model” wraps up. Joy obviously can’t last long for Louie, so things quickly take a turn when he accidentally injures the girl, then gets punched in the nose by her (astronaut) father. Finally, he’s told he has to compensate the girl’s family by payments of $5000 to them for effectively the rest of his life.
What’s great about this is that Louie’s tragic experience, plus how pathetic he looks with his nose all bandaged up, nets him an opportunity to have a drink with the comedy club waitress he didn’t get a chance to ask out at the outset of the episode. She keeps alternating between covering her mouth in shocked sympathy and bursting out in uncontrollable laughter at Louie’s incredible misfortune, but she is having a drink with him and she keeps putting her hand on his arm, so the episode ends with Louie smiling. He may have elbowed a model in the eye, have a broken nose, and owe an inconceivable sum of money, but all things considered, this counts as a win for him.
So really, I guess the moral here is “Every dog has its day so long as its day standards are awfully low.”