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Appointment Viewing: Louie (Not The One You Think)

Appointment viewing… is a regular column which features a Spinoff writer watching one or more episodes of a current show and attempting to decode its appeal. This week: Calum Henderson watches Louie, the surrealist baby cartoon not unlike its adult counterpart. //

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Episodes Consumed:
I don’t know. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been cruelly mistaken by this dumb baby show when I thought I’d hit the jackpot and found the clever grown-up show. I mean, the episode descriptions on the EPG are no help:

“Louie tells Yoko that she’s as graceful as a hippopotamus. The little ladybird is not impressed. To prove to Yoko that he didn’t mean to insult her, Louie draws a hippopotamus.”

Looks like Louie must be dating a woman called Yoko in this season. Referring to her as “the little ladybird” seems a little off, but you never know with Louie, maybe he’s making some kind of ironic comment. He’s not afraid to confront those taboos! Look, it doesn’t sound like the strongest episode but I assume there’s some dark twist they’re not letting on. Let’s w- ah nope it’s a baby cartoon about a rabbit. Forget it.

What’s it about?
It’s a baby cartoon about a rabbit. Like the grown-up Louie, the show could be described as a collection of vaguely surreal vignettes, but that is about where the similarities end. Unlike his comedian namesake this Louie is English, a rabbit, has a generally upbeat and cheerful demeanour, and is very good at drawing. Each episode involves him solving a problem by teaching us how to draw something.

In this episode he is forced to draw his way out of the dog box after likening Yoko to a hippopotamus. The “little ladybird” (she actually is quite small) takes umbrage and flutters off in a huff, provoking the recorded audience of 3-year-old chavs to chant “stop sulking Yoko!” It’s as if they’re shouting at a foreign football player who’s just had his leg broken by John Terry.

Instead of accepting responsibility for his offensive comment and apologising, Louie proceeds to argue with her, insisting that hippos are actually graceful. Come on mate, she doesn’t have time for your bullshit. To prove his point he sets about drawing a hippopotamus, which will then come alive when he colours it in.

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The colouring in part seems to be the climax of each episode and the baby chav chorus are on the edge of their seats, screaming in unison “colour her in!” Does “colour her in” sound like a shocking R Kelly-level sex euphemism to anyone else? Anyway, he colours her in (yeah…) and she proves to be graceful after all. Yoko begrudgingly accepts, and we are done. Nice little one act, very tight.

Who’s it for?
It’s for babies. A lot of baby shows these days have wised up to the fact that the parents are the ones in charge of the remote and started pandering to them by being on drugs and having the Flaming Lips come and play a song or whatever. Louie doesn’t appear to have this level of adult upside, but may hold some value as a basic drawing tutorial.

What’s working?
Episodes are very short, allowing parents to introduce their children to the wondrous concept of ‘binge watching’ at a very early age. And Louie seems like quite a good drawing teacher – I came away brimming with confidence that I could finally draw a decent hippopotamus after watching this episode.

What’s not?
It’s hard to say for sure, based on only one episode, that Louie is a problematic male role model. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s OK. While Louie himself seems quite posh, some of the peripheral characters speak in extremely broad Coronation Street accents, and some parents may not want to expose young children to that.

Should I get amongst it?
If you are, have, or know a baby – yes.

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