Slowly, I’ve been watching the fourth season of Louie. I’ll admit I stopped because I watch too much television. Wait, there’s no such thing. Anyway, after I saw the third episode, “So Did The Fat Lady,” I told everyone I knew—except Tumblr—to watch the episode. Simply said, it’s one of my favorite episodes of television, up there with The Good Wife’s “Hitting the Fan.”
As the title of this gem states, “So Did The Fat Lady” delves into the world of being fat, specifically being an overweight woman while dating. Her name is Vanessa (Sarah Baker) and she is a confident girl, interested in asking Louie out. Except out bitter anti-heroic comic is hesitant because of her physical appearance—something we as the audience know—but he refuses to admit.
Unlike certain charters on other shows, say Archer’s Pam Poovey or Eddie on Absolutely Fabulous, where their being fat is the premise of a joke, Louie tackles what it feels like to be that person and addresses the obvious.
Before I get to Vanessa’s epic monologue about the reception of being heavy, I want to note that in this episode Louis, the writer, also demonstrates the double-standard—at least in heterosexual relationships—that it is acceptable for the man to be overweight and lack abs, but not the woman. Even a step further, he mentions that it’s also okay for a man to talk about his weight issues and be considered charming, but if a woman does it, “they call the suicide hotline on [her].”
That last part was in the opening of Vanessa’s monologue at the end of the episode, where Louie really delves into the subject; fat and dating. She calls herself fat, and Louie interjects with a, “Well, you’re not” line I’ve heard a few times before. And she retorts:
“You know what the meanest thing you can say to a fat girl? ‘You’re not fat.’” She goes on to explain that a woman isn’t supposed to acknowledge the difficulty of being overweight. But she does:
“Why do [guys] hate us so much? What is it about the basics of human happiness – you know, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us – that’s just not in the cards for us? Nope, not for us. How is that fair? And why am I supposed to just accept it?”
Like before, Louie interrupts her, perhaps out of discomfort or feeling sorry for her, with: “You know, Vanessa, you’re a very really beautiful.” And again, she doesn’t accept that.
“Come on. If I was a “very really beautiful” then you would have said yes when I asked you out. I mean, come on, Louie, be honest here. You know what’s funny? I flirt with guys all the time. And I mean, the great looking ones, like the really high caliber studs? They flirt right back. No problem. Because they know their status will never be questioned. But guys like you never flirt with me because you get scared that maybe you should be with a girl like me. And why not?!”
There it is once more, the double standard: an unattractive guy can date a beautiful woman, but it’s never the other way around.
On a personal level, I saw myself in her, because in the gay dating world, it’s not okay to look like she did. And it’s even less okay to try and seek a man who is opposite that. But on a basic human principle, her monologue was painfully accurate, blunt, and vulnerable—a rare feat for a comedy. And even rarer was that such an ignored issue was discussed so beautifully. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this play out on television.
The biggest—and only—shame here is that Louie has a small audience because everyone deserves to watch “So Did The Fat Lady.”Maybe the Emmy voters will provide the series, episode, and Baker with the appropriate accolades.
Final grade: A+