Co-Parenting Issues and Louie Season 4
I enjoy watching the FX show Louie. The stand up comedian Louis C.K. writes, directs and edits the show. The program provides insight into a fictionalized version of his life, with many episodes revolving around his family and co-parenting issues with his ex.
Throughout the four seasons of the show, many episodes focused heavily on these family relationships. On the show and in real life, Louis C.K. shares custody of his two daughters with his ex wife. I’ve always found it interesting to see how Louis C.K. addresses the frustrations of raising his daughters after his divorce. Some episodes provide insight into his relationship history and how it impacts how he lives his life.
In season four, the six episode story “Elevator” goes even further in addressing family relationships. One aspect of the “Elevator” episodes is a storyline about how the Louie and his ex deal with one of their daughters’ difficulty discerning dreams from reality. In one incident, the daughter disobeyed Louie and got off the subway at the wrong time. In another, she got into conflict at school with a grown up. In both situations, she thought she was dreaming.
The daughter’s difficulty spurred Louie to take his ex out for coffee to discuss what they could do to help their daughter. As one of the daughter’s outbursts took place at school, the conversation between the exes delved into putting the daughter in a private school. Louie expressed disfavor of the idea, insisting that public school would teach valuable life skills.
Absent the issues with the difference between dreams and reality, these sorts of conversations are common with exes sharing joint legal decision-making. Neither party is inherently wrong, as both want that they think is best for the child. These divergent mindsets lend to conflict as to how issues should be resolved. Either decision, mixed with the proper guidance and attention, would benefit their daughter.
These scenes were fantastic at depicting the difficulty parents have when facing child trouble. Joint parents often face days, weeks, or months of detachment from their children’s lives when the other parent makes decisions with which they don’t entirely agree. These decisions shape how the child grows, and how they begin to change in the time apart from you. That can hurt emotionally, but there are ways to minimize those frustrations.
In a later episode, Louie notes that having an ex is like starting a brand new relationship. I thought that was an amazing articulation of the dynamic people face after a divorce. If you share children in common, you’re still going to need to maintain a relationship with your ex even if it’s not a romantic one. You can’t just treat the ex as a “sometimes parent.” Though you might not agree each way they choose to raise the child, some agreements need to be made so the child has consistent rules and support.
The great thing about the show is that Louis C.K. is willing to address serious and difficult parenting issues. He’s not afraid to show characters that lack the ability to fully deal with those issues. As an example, at one point during a counseling session on the show, his character even opens a window to scream, due to feelings of dismissal. Louis C.K.’s willingness to address these frustrations and challenges allow for new avenues for comedy and for reflection on how “real people” would approach the situation.
In the season four episode set “In the Woods,” C.K. addresses another difficult parenting situation. He finds his other daughter at a social gathering about to smoke marijuana. He takes her home and scolds her. But, through flashbacks, he reflects on his experiences with marijuana during his adolescence. It was fascinating to see how his prior actions and the reactions of his parents lead to how he treated his daughter.
Though the show can be offensive and vulgar to some viewers, I would highly recommend it; It will make you reconsider how you approach your family relationships.