Louie (Season 4) is the saddest and most brilliant and often most unsettling thing on television right now. Sometimes, it’s even still funny.
Episode 8 — the fifth part of the “Elevator” storyline — ups the sad and unsettling stakes. We all knew that Louie’s friendship/ romance with Amia was going all too well, so disaster was clearly in the offing. But the form it took was unexpected, and quietly devastating, at least for some viewers.
Entirely happy at first with their time together — despite, or because of, the language gap — Louie is made to feel, by his ex-wife Janet, as well as his neighbor (Amia’s aunt), that he does not have a “real,” serious relationship with Amia because they have not had sex. So the next time they get back from a night out, he forces — over her repeated protests, and unheeded “byes” — the issue.
It’s not exactly rape, maybe, by the strictest definition. But it is very close. Amia is unwilling; Louie is insistent. She gives in. There is no gun to her head and no behavior-altering substance involved, unless you count intermingled affection, pity, and fear as a substance. But it is not happy, entirely-consensual sex. It is “no good,” as Amia tells Louie sadly, the next morning.
I’m writing this because I started to read the online reviews of this episode and I realized that no one else seemed to think it was borderline — much less outright — date rape. Astonishingly, one review even saw the incident as “an unambiguously sweet, mutually supportive, and unself-conscious act of lovemaking.” Others just assumed that “no good” meant that the sex itself went badly — not that it should never have happened in the first place, considering Amia’s repeatedly expressed reluctance. Most do not question the equation of fucking with “getting serious” (and therefore by implication support the notion that Louie’s feelings were invalid or inconsequential because he had not “sealed the deal” — a notion imposed on Louie by others, or society).
"There is real intensity and (dare I say) eroticism happening," another review says of the encounter. The same review acknowledges that “something went wrong,” judging by Amia’s words the next morning, but “the question of what it was […] will, alas, have to wait one more week.”
What went wrong was that one of them, for whatever reason, did not want to have sex, and made this clear, and tried to leave, and the other one, the larger one with anger issues, decided that, for whatever reason, sex was going to happen, no matter what.
Am I over-reading or overreacting? It’s entirely possible. But I harbor great respect for Louis C.K. as a writer and I’m betting he’s fully aware of the implications. I look forward to watching the next episodes, in any case. Trust Louis C.K. to keep challenging your expectations and assumptions.