Louie (TV series)

This article is about the U.S. TV series. For the French animated TV series, see Louie (French TV series).

Intertitle from seasons 1–3 & 5
Genre Black comedy
Surreal humour
Created by Louis C.K.
Written by Louis C.K.
Directed by Louis C.K.
Starring Louis C.K.
Opening theme "Brother Louie" performed by Ian Lloyd (seasons 1–3 & 5)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 61 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Louis C.K.
Dave Becky
M. Blair Breard
Producer(s) Pamela Adlon
Tony Hernandez
Location(s) New York City
Editor(s) Louis C.K.
David Abel
Susan E. Morse
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 19–41 minutes[1]
Production company(s) 3 Arts Entertainment
Pig Newton, Inc.
FX Productions (2010–15)
Distributor 20th Television
Original network FX
Original release June 29, 2010 (2010-06-29) – present
External links

Louie is an American comedy-drama television series on the FX network that began airing in 2010. It is written, directed, edited, and produced by the show's creator, comedian Louis C.K.[2] He also stars in the show as a fictionalized version of himself, a comedian and newly divorced father raising his two daughters in New York City. The show has a loose format atypical for television comedy series, consisting of largely unconnected storylines and segments (described by FX president John Landgraf as "extended vignettes")[3] that revolve around Louie's life, punctuated by live stand-up performances.

The show has been met with critical acclaim and was included in various critics' 2010s top-ten lists of TV shows.[4] C.K. has received several Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his acting, writing, and directing, and has won for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the 64th and 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

In August 2015, FX announced the series would return for a sixth season, but would go on an extended hiatus and return when Louis C.K. is ready to continue working on the series.[5] In an interview with Howard Stern, C.K. claimed that though he didn't want to close the door on the series, he didn't want to have any obligation to FX to do another season.[6]


Louie is loosely based on comedian Louis C.K.'s life, showing segments of him doing his stand-up routine onstage, and depicting his life offstage as a divorced father of two girls. Each episode features either two stories (which may or may not connect thematically) or a longer full-episode story (often consisting of numerous connected shorter pieces). The stories of all episodes revolve around Louie.

The stage of the Comedy Cellar, which is often shown on the series.

The pieces are interspersed with segments of Louie's stand-up, usually performed in small New York comedy clubs, mainly the Comedy Cellar and Carolines in Manhattan. The stand-up in the show consists of original material recorded for the series, and is usually shot from the stage rather than from the more traditional audience perspective. Sometimes these comedy segments are integrated into the stories themselves, whereas other times they simply serve to bookend them with a loosely connected topic. In the first season, short, awkward conversations between Louie and his therapist are also shown occasionally. Beginning in the third season, some episodes do not feature any stand-up performances or the opening credit sequence.

Episodes in the series have standalone plots, although some recurring roles (e.g. Louie's playdate friend Pamela, portrayed by Pamela Adlon, who was C.K.'s co-star in Lucky Louie) occasionally provide story arc continuity between episodes. Continuity is not enforced; for example, Louie's mother has been portrayed in two very different ways.[lower-alpha 1] As C.K. explained, "Every episode has its own goal, and if it messes up the goal of another episode, [...] I just don't care."[7] Some stories also take place outside of the show's main time frame. For two examples, the episode "God" depicts Louie's childhood, and the episode "Oh Louie" shows the comedian 9 years earlier in his career. Beginning in the third season, Louie has moved toward story continuity within the season, and it includes multi-episode story arcs.[8]

The pilot episode includes segments depicting a school field trip and an embarrassing first date, with subsequent episodes covering a diverse range of material, including divorce, sex, sexual orientation, depression and Catholic guilt.


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 13 June 29, 2010 (2010-06-29) September 7, 2010 (2010-09-07)
2 13 June 23, 2011 (2011-06-23) September 8, 2011 (2011-09-08)
3 13 June 28, 2012 (2012-06-28) September 27, 2012 (2012-09-27)
4 14 May 5, 2014 (2014-05-05) June 16, 2014 (2014-06-16)
5 8 April 9, 2015 (2015-04-09) May 28, 2015 (2015-05-28)

Cast and characters

C.K. serves as the show's star and plays the only character who appears in every episode. Louie lacks a regular fixed cast, and instead features many guest appearances by stand-up comedians and actors. As a stand-up comedian in New York, Louie's social circle on the show consists mainly of other comedians, and many notable comedians (such as Nick DiPaolo, Todd Barry, Jim Norton, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld) have had recurring roles as fictionalized versions of themselves.

Most episodes tend to focus on Louie's interactions with new characters. However, the show features a number of recurring characters, including Louie's two daughters, Lilly (Hadley Delany) and Jane (Ursula Parker); his brother Robbie (Robert Kelly); his teenage-looking agent Doug (Edward Gelbinovich); Pamela (Pamela Adlon), the playdate friend and potential love interest; Dr. Ben (Ricky Gervais), Louie's crude and inappropriate doctor; Louie's therapist (David Patrick Kelly); and his ex-wife, Janet (Susan Kelechi Watson).

Since Louie lacks a strictly enforced continuity between episodes, supporting actors occasionally reappear in multiple roles, as is the case with William Stephenson, who appears as a bus driver in the pilot and as himself in "Oh Louie/Tickets"; Amy Landecker, who appears as Louie's date in "Bully" and as a young Louie's mother in "God" and "In the Woods"; and F. Murray Abraham, who plays a swinger in "New Jersey/Airport", Louie's uncle Excelsior in "Dad" and Louie's father in "In the Woods". Furthermore, Louie's mother and sisters have each been portrayed by multiple actresses, although his children have been consistently portrayed by Delany and Parker since the middle of the first season. His ex-wife is portrayed by Brooke Bloom in a flashback scene of "Elevator Part 4".

Recurring guest stars

Guest stars

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

In addition to these guest stars, several notable comedians have appeared in smaller roles, including Chris Gethard, Todd Glass, Ted Alexandro, Amir Blumenfeld, Eddie Brill, Joe DeRosa, Vernon Chatman, Artie Lange, Godfrey, Chelsea Peretti, JB Smoove, Dave Attell, Michael Cera, John Lithgow, Big Jay Oakerson, and Steven Wright. Opie & Anthony and Amy Schumer have had voice-only guest appearances.


Rather than accepting a bigger-budget production deal with a larger network, C.K. accepted the modest offer of $200,000 (covering his own fee as well as production costs) to do a pilot with FX, which was because FX allowed him full creative control. The show is shot on a Red camera setup, and C.K. edits many of the episodes on his personal MacBook Pro.[10][11] In addition to starring, C.K. serves as the show's sole writer and director, an unusual combination in American TV production. Referring to John Landgraf, who convinced C.K. to accept a deal with FX, C.K. said:

He had a very loose idea of what he wanted. I said, "Let me shoot a pilot and you don't have anything to do with it. I won't even pitch you the idea or show you the script or show you the footage or show you the casting. Just wire me the money and let me do the show." And he was willing to do that. One of the reasons it was done that way was he only gave me $200,000 for the thing all in. Since I was able to prove this was a way to do it and they liked what they got, I was able to keep doing it that way.[12]

Dave Becky also serves as executive producer.[3][13] C.K. directed, cast, and edited the first episode of the show with a budget of $250,000, provided by FX.[14] In the second season, the budget was increased to $300,000 per episode.

Production began in November 2009. C.K. said of his show, "It's very vignette-y. It's very vérité. All those French words. I use 'em all."[13] C.K.'s Lucky Louie co-star Pamela Adlon serves as consulting producer of the series.[15]

On February 27, 2012, C.K. announced on his Twitter page that he would be handing off some editing duties to longtime Woody Allen collaborator Susan E. Morse for Season 3.[16]

Critical reception

Louis C.K. at the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards

Louie has received acclaim from critics. The stand-up segments received strong praise, as did the show's perceived "indie film" style, with some likening the show to the work of Woody Allen.[17] Criticisms largely centered on the pacing and low-key delivery of the show's jokes, which often include long setups compared to the rapid-fire punchlines of a traditional sitcom.[18][19]

Of the "top TV" lists tracked by Metacritic, Louie appeared on 9 of 28 in 2010[4] and 22 of 39 in 2011, the latter of which includes 3 lists where the show was ranked 1st.[20] On Metacritic, the first season scored 69 out of 100, based on 20 reviews.[21] The second season scored 90 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 7 reviews.[22] The third season received critical acclaim, scoring 94 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 16 reviews.[23] The fourth season also received critical acclaim, scoring 93 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 30 reviews.[24] The fifth season received acclaim as well, scoring 91 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 20 reviews.[25]

Television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Louie as the 18th best American television show of all time in their book titled TV (The Book), stating that unlike other sitcoms which kept their tone and format the same throughout their respective runs, the series "morphed from week to week, episode to episode, sometimes minute to minute. In doing so, it translated the thought-processes of stand-up comedy into cinematic terms, and in a way that was new to commercial television."[26]

Home media releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Region 1 on June 21, 2011.[27] Season 2 was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Region 1 on June 19, 2012.[28] Seasons 3, 4 and 5 were exclusively released on DVD via Amazon.com's manufacture on demand program.[29][30]

Season Episodes Release date Bonus features
The Complete First Season 13 June 21, 2011
  • Five deleted/extended scenes with introductions by Louis C.K.
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: Louie – Writer's Draft
  • Commentary on 11 episodes by Louis C.K.
The Complete Second Season 13 June 19, 2012
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere Louie Season 2
  • Commentary on 5 episodes by Louis C.K.


  1. In the first season's seventh episode, "Double Date/Mom", Louie's mother is played by Mary Louise Wilson and is portrayed as a very unpleasant woman. By contrast, in that season's eleventh episode, "God", a flashback to Louie's childhood shows the young Louie's mother as a very different woman with a nice personality, and she is played by Amy Landecker. Landecker also portrayed present-day Louie's date earlier in the season, in episode 9, "Bully".


  1. "Louie". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  2. Sepinwall, Alan (January 24, 2011). "Interview: 'Louie' creator/star Louis CK on season 1, drunken Sarah Palin tweets and more". HitFix.com. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  3. 1 2 Littleton, Cynthia (August 19, 2009). "More laffs in FX lineup". Variety. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
  4. 1 2 Dietz, Jason (December 3, 2010). "2010 Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  5. Hibberd, James (August 7, 2015). "FX's Louie going on 'extended hiatus'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  6. Stern, Howard (April 11, 2016). "Louis C.K. Explains His Concept for Horace and Pete". The Howard Stern Show. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  7. Presenter: Jimmy Kimmel (June 27, 2011). "Monday, June 27, 2011". Jimmy Kimmel Live!. ABC. Louis C.K. segment on YouTube: Part 1 on YouTube, Part 2 on YouTube, Part 3 on YouTube
  8. Sepinwall, Alan (June 27, 2012). "Review: FX's 'Louie' still unpredictable, and brilliant, in season 3". HitFix. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  9. Itzkoff, Dave (April 5, 2013). "Louis C. K. and the Ballad of Jack Dall". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  10. Harris, Adam (October 8, 2010). "How Louis C.K. Shoots and Edits His Own Show". Gizmodo. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  11. "Episode 112 - Louis CK part 2". WTF with Marc Maron Podcast. October 7, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  12. "FX Landed Louis C.K. With Creative Freedom and by Wiring $200,000". The New York Times. March 26, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  13. 1 2 Itzkoff, Dave (August 20, 2009). "New Comedy Series for Louis C.K.". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
  14. Schneider, Michael (August 6, 2009). "FX likes Louis C.K.". Variety. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
  15. Stanley, Alessandra (June 28, 2010). "Life After Divorce (Don't Ask About the Monkeys)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  16. C.K., Louis (February 26, 2012). "Exciting: I have fired myself as editor of LOUIE for season 3 and hired Susan E. Morse". Twitter. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  17. Stanley, Alessandra (June 28, 2010). "Life After Divorce (Don't Ask About the Monkeys)". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  18. Hinckley, David (June 29, 2010). "FX's 'Louie' better than HBO's 'Lucky Louie', but Louis C.K. still hasn't found his niche". Daily News. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  19. Lowry, Brian (June 26, 2010). "Louie". Variety.com. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  20. Dietz, Jason. "2011 Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  21. "Critic Reviews for Louie Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  22. "Critic Review for Louie Season 2". Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  23. "Critic Review for Louie Season 3". Metacritic. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  24. "Critic Review for Louie Season 4". Metacritic. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  25. "Critic Review for Louie Season 5". Metacritic. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  26. Sepinwall, Alan; Seitz, Matt Zoller (September 6, 2016). TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455588190.
  27. Lambert, David (March 28, 2011). "Louie - Fox's Canadian Press Release Gives Street Date, Extras for Season 1 DVD/Blu Combo Set". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  28. Lacey, Gord (April 4, 2012). "Louie - Season 2 Announced". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  29. Lambert, David (April 10, 2014). "Louie - DVD Release for 'The Complete 3rd Season' is Scheduled". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  30. Lambert, David (April 6, 2015). "Louie - 'The Complete 4th Season' DVDs Are NOW AVAILABLE!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved April 7, 2015.

External links

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