“Miami” was an almost great episode of Louie that was also one of the sweeter episodes the show’s done. It didn’t even require the appearance of the adorable girls who play his daughters in the show. However, it really did have a big problem, one that did a good job at showing just how big of an effect small decisions have in making the show work: it’s one of the few episodes of Louie that trips right at the finish line. And unlike some of the show’s errors, it wasn’t just a charming illustration of the show’s DIY low-budget aesthetic; instead it was just an unusual display of misjudgment.
As should be obvious from the title, Louis is visiting Miami, in and out of the city for a few stand-up appearances. Initially disconcerted by the hordes of beautiful people around him, he eventually moves past his embarrassment with his body and is able to go swimming at the beach. While out in the water, the chair he was sitting in is taken away, along with his wallet and phone, which he’d hidden under a towel. He screams in the hope that the man taking them will stop, but this is misconstrued by the beach lifeguard to be a cry for help. He’s “rescued” by the lifeguard, Ramon, and the pair soon begin an unlikely friendship.
Louis and Ramon’s meet cute emphasizes the affectionate, quasi-homosexual nature of their friendship. Ramon shows him all the parts of Miami that he’d missed as just a tourist passing through, and even introduces Louis to his family. When it comes time for Louis to leave town, he decides to hang around to see his new friend more, but a phone call to his ex-wife points out that it seems like he’s found a woman down in Miami. In the episode’s best—though, admittedly a bit ham-fisted—scene, Louis and Ramon meet again and try to communicate their mutual anxiety about defining what their friendship is about.
As I’ve mentioned before, what makes Louie so special and different from other shows is that it usually asks its audience to figure things out on their own. The gradual revelation that Louis and Ramon were on a date, of sorts, together is one of those instances. However, before the episode ends, Louis moves to a scene of stand-up where he rehashes (for the most part) what the entire episode’s been about. Like in early Seinfeld episodes, the stand-up is distracting because of the way it just underlines what the story was about anyhow, broadly emphasizing a point that was already implicit in the material. It also has a secondary effect, of interpreting the episode for the audience and in that narrowing down what the episode is about: the summary tells people to read it in a specific way, whereas Louie usually encourages much more open readings.
It’s a nit-picky point, but Louie’s a more tenuous show than most because it requires reinventing itself every single week. Moving away from stand-up allowed the show room to breathe and become larger, giving it a more interesting lens to view the world. Stand-up gets used in a variety of interesting ways in Louie, but this unfortunately wasn’t one of them. It’s one of those few instances where Louie proves tone deaf, and Louis as writer/director seems to miss what makes his own show so good. Still, apart from this, “Miami” told a moving not-quite-love story in a sweet, almost conventional manner, and its simplicity made it one of the more easily digestible episodes Louie’s ever done. Plus, it’s not too hard to pretend that last part didn’t exist.
•Presumably the point of the credits footage is simply, “Boy does it suck to be the boom guy.”