Honestly, Louie is really difficult to write about sometimes. I feel like a frued trying to get inside Louis C.K.’s head, mostly because he’s much, much smarter than me. The fact that there’s no continuity doesn’t help, so all the stuff I mentioned last week about his new girlfriend Tape Recorder will likely never come up again. Sometimes I’ll just stare at a blank screen after watching and just think, “what?”
But then it dawned on me. This is what C.K. wants. His show cannot be canonized. We’re supposed to have difficulty digesting it because he takes typical TV conventions and diarrheas all over them in the bathtub. And maybe if a story he’s sharing doesn’t seem to have a meaning to it, it’s probably because it doesn’t.
“Barney/Never” is just one of the many examples of how C.K. can do whatever he wants, putting two different short films together with a common theme (in this instance, fundamentally awful human beings) in a single episode of television, and while he’s done this plenty of times before, no one else could even think of trying something like it.
The first half begins without the typical opening credits but instead a black and white shot of Louie walking through a cemetery to a grave sight. No one is there at first, until of course Robin Williams shows up.
The two meet at a diner and explain their relationship to the man — Louie worked at his comedy club several times, and Robin used to be married to his sister-in-law. The two dance around the subject until finally Louie blurts out “I’m pretty sure that Barney was the biggest piece of shit I ever knew,” which lifts a huge burden off the both of them, knowing that they can now freely reminisce about how much of an asshole Barney was. Louie hates the fact that we idealize death, and that no matter how terrible a person was in life, in death he’s automatically forgiven. Should it be that way? According to Louie and Robin, no way. The two banter back and forth, bonding over this guy’s shitty life. You can tell that much of it is improvised, if by nothing more than the expression on Louie’s face when he’s talking and listening to Robin. You can see how much Louis admires him by the way his face lights up, and it’s something we rarely get to witness on the show.
In tribute to their fallen acquaintance, they go to the strip club that Barney always suggested they come to but never did. When they explain why they are there, the staff is devastated by the news. They all sob, hold each other, and play Sister Christian by Night Ranger in memory of the great man they knew. Louie and Robin leave and can do nothing but crack up hysterically. Maybe this guy was an asshole in his real life, but in one of the shadiest places in town, he was a beloved figure. The two new friends part, promising that they’d show up to each other’s funerals. (“Whoever dies first.”)
Act II gives us Louie trying to spend a day with his daughter only to get sucked into babysitting one of Lily’s classmates, a terrible child named Never. Lily tries to warn her dad about him, but Louie — being a general believer in humanity — accepts the offer from Never’s mom (who needs to leave due to an urgent consultation for her vagina removal surgery). Moments after the mother leaves, Louie turns to his daughter to try and explain something and already Never is reeking havoc, pushing a stroller into the street, causing a huge accident culminating in some sort of chemical spill. (or maybe gas leak?) Everyone runs away screaming in panic, with Louie just looking mildly disgusted with himself that he’s taken on this challenge.
After a series of strange events involving this devil child (eating raw meat out of a bowl, throwing Louie’s rug out the window), Louie allows the kid to take a bath while he does a truly awful radio interview to try and sell tickets for his upcoming shows in Kansas City. At the end of it, Lily (who had previously locked herself in her room) comes out complaining of a bad smell coming from the bathroom. We pretty much knew what we were going to find once Louie opened that door, but it didn’t make it any less disgusting.
Louie does his best not to completely freak out and cleans the kid up the best he can. While the two are sitting on the couch waiting for Never’s mom to come pick him up, Louie tries to get the kid to open up to him. He knows he’s messed up, but knows that he’s just a child, and more than likely most of this is not his fault. We find out that Never’s mommy “doesn’t like him”, and Louie responds very bluntly: ”because you eat raw meat and shit in the tub and you wreck everything, and as long as you act like that, no one is gonna like you.”
“My mom says that any choice I make is OK because I love myself,” the kid explains.
“You’re mom is wrong,” Louie so beautifully answers. Clearly, Louie is not a fan the new-age trend of never saying no to your kids. Not everyone’s kid is special. Trophies for participation are bullshit.
While completely separate stories, I guess there’s some logical connections between “Barney” and “Never,” the most obvious being that if the trends keep up, Never will one day turn into Barney. Do yourselves a favor, parents. Stop raising kid like Never or no one will show up at his funeral.
- Everyone knows the asshole that begs for people to hang out with him. It’s actually my biggest fear that I’ve turned into him sometimes. I’m getting too personal with this post and I’m sorry.
- I’ve only been to a strip club one time, but the disgusted looks on the strippers faces when Louie and Robin turned down lap dance offers rang pretty true.
- I think that was Artie Lange leading the panic scene, and I know that was JB Smoove as the gravedigger who doesn’t understand African.
- Never can’t eat anything with carbon in it, and Louie doesn’t know what that means.
- The radioshow parody was so over-the-top that the words people were saying literally made no sense.
- Louie’s reaction to Never asking if Louie can bathe him was amazing. He should have just listened to Lily. That girl is smarter than most adults I know.