This isn’t the best Louie of the season, and with the madness of stuff like last week’s “Untitled,” it’s certainly not the most surprising one either, but “Sleepover” is just another solid episode in what’s been a consistently great little season (and I mean little because there’s only a two-parter left before it ends).
I know I harp constantly about this show’s structure, but I just want to say again how much I’m enjoying the way Louis C.K. has actually found a comfortable format for the show this season. It’s structured more like a conventional show than it has been in previous seasons but loosely enough that it doesn’t lose that quality of being able to veer off on tangents if it wants to. It’s a great mix because you still get the signature unpredictability of this series but enough conventional plotting that the stories don’t just end feeling unresolved (something that happened in episodes from previous seasons).
“Sleepover” is mostly about Louie hosting a sleepover for his daughter Jane and a bunch of her friends. Largely, it’s focused on how nightmarish it is to have approximately a million shrieking little girls in one apartment. They jump around all over the place, yell, put on a TV show that’s just a screaming cartoon cube with a face, and keep bugging Louie for pizza and ice cream. In keeping with the show’s theme of absurdly named children, they have names like Shasta, Afghanistan, and Tranquiliteh (that’s how it’s pronounced anyway).
What’s awesome is how the episode gradually turns the little girls from an annoyance into an asset. At first, they’re just pissing off Louie, who at one point slips away to take a phone call from Pamela and then (after blocking his bedroom door with his dresser) tries to have impromptu phone sex with her. It doesn’t pan out when the girls come a-knocking, demanding ice cream, but then later his brother Bobby calls up. He’s in jail and needs Louie to bail him out. Louie has to rent a car and take the girls with him to the police station, irritating him and the driver the whole way.
When Louie actually gets to the station, the officer at the desk at first gives him a bullshit excuse to make him wait unnecessarily—a staple of the bureaucratic process of all government agencies. However, having the girls around finally pays off as no one can deal with them screaming and bouncing off the walls. Thus, the officer changes his mind and quickly puts the bailing process in motion. Finally, Louie, Bobby, the girls, and even the driver get to stop and get the ice cream the girls have been demanding all episode.
It’s a cute resolution and a surprisingly positive one for a show that often seems to dwell on the dismal tragedies of existence. It’s also got a lot of really funny moments, like when Louie’s older daughter, Lilly, assures him he shouldn’t worry about her going out because nobody gets raped or murdered at 10AM. Jane overhears and asks what “raped” is and Louie explains that it’s something bad, adding, as a cover, that it’s a “financial thing.”
Louie’s phone conversation with Pamela is pretty great too: “I miss the shit out of your stupid tits.”
“Yeah, they’re both pretty dumb. They both flunked out of tit school.”
There’s also the uncomfortable mini-plot of Louie accidentally revealing to Jane’s friend Shasta that her parents are planning to get divorced (they then decide not to, which makes what he’s done even worse). And the tag is brilliantly stupid as Bobby and Louie eat yogurt and Bobby remarks, “Can you believe this comes out of a cow’s pussy?”
It was the least interesting part of the episode for me, but it’s worth mentioning that “Sleepover” starts off with an unrelated story about Louie and Lilly going to see a stage show that has a ridiculously star-studded cast (including Matthew Broderick, Michael Cera, John Lithgow, and Glenn Close). It’s another one of those openings where Louie grapples with what it’s like to get old in a world run by young people as he catches Lilly staring at her phone during the play. However, it turns out she’s just reading background information about the production because she’s so interested in it and is able to keep track of the play even while staring at her phone.
Good on Louie for being able to accept this, because I’m still very much of the “get off your goddamn phone” persuasion. But then again, theatre does suck.