Brave might be too strong of a word to describe tonight's episode of Louie, "Miami," but there just aren't many series out there that have done what this great episode did. "Miami" explored the notion that deep down, all humans are confused (and possibly bisexual) beings who are just looking for connection and a little eye contact and someone to pal around with shirtless in the ocean because we all feel confined to the person we're perceived to be. And it's an especially rare feat on television when it comes from the viewpoint of a middle-aged, balding, overweight father who's fresh off divorce.
I don't want to confuse being gay and attraction to the same sex with what Louie did tonight, though it's certainly part of the conversation. Really, "Miami" was about how we discover feelings, process feelings, and act on those feelings in ways we'd never expect to. In public, we swat at those ideas from bubbling up in our hearts like they're mosquitoes at a BBQ, but given the perfect tick in space and time and butterflies fluttering around, we have no idea what we're capable of (that sounds negative, I don't mean it to sound negative) or even what we want.
Tonight, Louie went down to Miami to do a few shows and hang out on his hotel balcony alone while he looked down at a thriving culture that's the real pulse of the town. Through some hilarious Mr. Magoo-ish turns of events, Louie was accidentally saved from non-drowning by a handsome and fun bag of Cuban muscle known as Ramon. An unlikely friendship was born; Ramon laughed his ass off during Louie's set in the hotel bar, and Louie found someone to connect with in Miami.
Immediately after a bikini blonde stole a strawberry from Louie's lunch without asking (a perfect heterosexual opportunity to chat her up), Louie—sick of the Barbies and Kens who plagued his hotel—found an escape when Ramon invited him out to a party. In a gorgeous sequence of events, Ramon showed Louie the REAL Miami. Louie ate at shacks of local snacks, engaged with people who hadn't just stepped off a magazine cover (the hotel lobby full of models was hilarious), and witnessed another side of life at the festive, unpretentious party with Ramon's Cuban family. It was all good-natured hospitality that opened up Louie's eyes to a new world that he hadn't seen before. And the car ride back to get Louie to his gig in time? Those were good times. Louie was accepted.
Bringing someone into your life (as Ramon did) doesn't have the same impact as being shown a new world, and the effect on Louie was part discovering a new best friend at summer camp and part thankful reassurance that the world isn't full of plastic people stepping on each other's heads. It was enough to fill a man's head with confused feelings, and that's exactly what happened.
Louie canceled his trip home to stay in Miami in an attempt to recapture the feelings of that day with Ramon. He mistakenly projected those feelings onto Ramon, the handsome Cuban man who didn't save his life in the ocean but saved his life in Miami, and sought him out because he was the vessel through which Louie was able to experience this wonderful (I said the word, Louis!) culture. Homoerotic undertones became overtones, and Louie was fully immersed in a man crush.
The final scene, in which Louie and Ramon had an awkward conversation about why he extended his stay, remains beautifully ambiguous. Maybe Louie just wanted to hang out with Ramon as friends, maybe he wanted something more. Likely he was still processing his feelings from being scooped out of the ocean by a hunky man who showed him one of the best times he's had in recent years, and he wasn't ready to talk about those feelings. Could you blame him? All he could do was stammer out something that sounded like denial or acceptance or something in between and watch his new-found friend walk away as he Louie'd a situation once again.
Wonderfully paced, thought-provoking, and more relatable than most heterosexual men would care to admit, "Miami" was excellent and perfectly nailed a very interesting experience. Another fabulous slice of real life from FX's best anthology of short films known as Louie.
– "I know it's not a popular thing to say but I hate balloons." Best non-sequitur ever.
– The end tag of footage from the shore as Louis C.K. filmed the drowning/rescue scene showed just how hard Louis C.K. works on this show. We see his character as a passive shlub, but it's incredible how much he effort he puts into Louie.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom