1400112890484.cachedThis episode aired weeks ago, but I only caught up with it last night. And my mind is still reeling.

The TV series Louie (2010-present) does a better job of showing us the uncomfortable, complicated aspects of dating (that amazing episode in which he sort of falls for the guy in Miami!) than almost anything else I’ve seen. But no matter Louis CK’s shlubbyness, he dates women who look like Parker Posey:

a_560x375So consider me interested in this episode, “So Did the Fat Lady,” when a funny fat woman flirts with him and asks him out, and Louis turns her down. Nota bene: he spent the first part of the episode with a buddy on a “bang-bang” — that is, they ate a full meal together at one restaurant, then departed to another restaurant for another full meal. It is the nadir of self-destructiveness by a couple of fat guys; they hardly speak as they eat themselves stupid during this bang-bang; they’re not doing it for “fun.”

Yet when Louis and Vanessa (Sarah Baker) walk along the riverfront and he offers her a half-hearted, “You’re not fat …”, she lights into him.

“On behalf of all the fat girls, I’m making you represent all the guys,” Vanessa says. “Why do you hate us so much?” And for an amazing seven minutes, she lets him have it. You should watch the full episode for the whole setup, but the scene is available here.


Louie loves to make its viewers uncomfortable; the whole series puts its protagonist in the middle of the strangest, most cringe-making scenes it can cook up. This one is no exception. Vanessa doesn’t let up, phrasing her complaints in a way that make us confrontation-averse types watch our sympathies ricochet between her and Louie. She lets him have it, but not without forcing you to see her perspective. It’s a genius rant.

One could complain (and they have) that the show’s creator, Louis CK, wrote the whole thing. But I’m not sure that line of attack is worthwhile. In fact, I have an abiding fascination with other moments in history when male writers recount amazing moments when they found themselves absolutely bawled out by a woman. One of my favorites is Captain John Smith’s account of meeting Pocahontas in London in 1617 and having her rip him a new one for failing to observe the rules of kinship cemented during their time in Virginia. Smith recounts her speech in full, which ends condemning the English for their propensity to lie.

ac3ea7190c324be4cbd4338c53e097ebI’m still not sure how I feel about the end of the scene, as the two defuse the tension. But what an amazing thing to see on TV. What did you think?


Neurotic woman (Parker Posey), late 30s, is desperate for love. She’s so pretty and has such a great wardrobe but she’s just so pathetic. That’s just the way women are in their late 30s, right? desperate and overly high-strung, till they find a guy?

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Also: stop reading if you’re already gagging a bit in your mouth. On Feminéma’s patented Vomit-O-Meter®, this ranks at Red Zone/Full Ralph. Oh yeah, then she meets the Magical Frenchman of the titular Broken English. (Magical Frenchman is not to be confused with the Magical Negro trope; pathetic female protagonists get Magical Men to have sex with and cure all their issues, while troubled male protagonists do not sleep with the Magical Negros who help them discover the true meaning of life. For clarification, thanks to TVtropes.com). Et voilà! Let’s hold hands in the Métro!

You know what I need, folks? Some kind of mental eraser so I will forget that Parker Posey was so much of a sucker as to say yes to a script this lame. Also: some kind of feminist brickbat to use on director Zoe Cassavetes for using such an array of talent (Gena Rowlands! Peter Bogdanovich! Drea de Matteo!) in such an insulting tale.

(Also need: an image of Vomit-O-Meter®. Tried with a Sharpie and a scanner but I now cannot make my computer recognize the scanner. Do any of you have skillz? For a reward, just say Vomit-O-Meter several times in a row and feel the joy!)

Because that’s what this is: an offensive film for female suckers. Isn’t it bad enough that director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood, etc.) has sold her soul to make that drivel? I’m sorry, but with a film pedigree that might even outdo Sofia Coppola’s, surely Cassavetes can do better. If not then please, Zoe, just turn producer for Dee Rees or Maryam Keshavarz. In the meantime, I’ve got to get this nasty taste out of my mouth.

Palate cleanser

10 April 2011

I have much more to say about the hullabaloo over funny women lately (the new Tina Fey book, the New Yorker essay about Anna Faris, and on and on) but mostly I’ve been inspired by the Self-Styled Siren and Glenn Kenny to post a palate cleanser. But unlike those esteemed critics’ choices, mine’s lowbrow: from Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, the brilliant Parker Posey as the high school senior all too eager to torture the new freshmen girls — mastering both physical and verbal humor.

Posey’s only one small part of this amazing ensemble cast (Matthew McConaughey has never been better, and he keeps his shirt on for the entire film!) but I wish she were more recognized for her genius. In fact, I want to watch this film all over again.