The promos for "Miami," the third episode of comedian Louis C.K.'s FX comedy Louie this season, focused on typical outsiders' complaints about Miami: The vacuous model types strolling South Beach, their entitled behavior, and shameful way they make normal folks feel about their bodies. Based on them alone, we'd assumed last night's show would feature C.K. skewering our city's superficial side -- a common source of humor for any funny person joking about South Florida.
But Louis C.K.'s not just any funny person.
Instead, last night's episode takes Louie to "the real Miami." The idea of a fake Miami is a myth we've disputed before. But we're going to let it go, in this case, because C.K. uses that myth to show our city in the most realistic -- and most flattering -- light we've ever seen on TV. Louis C.K. is in love with Miami, and after you watch the episode he filmed here, the feeling will be mutual.
Yes, the show begins with Louie checking into The Raleigh, looking confounded and annoyed at the beautiful people all around him. They knock him down on the beach; they steal food from his plate at the poolside restaurant. When Louie goes to the beach, he's so intimidated by all the sexy ladies surrounding him that he can't take his shirt off. Instead he retires to his hotel room, orders room service, and falls into a mid-day food coma. (Hey, we've been there.)
When he wakes up, Louie ventures to the shore again to discover that all the hotties have left, leaving just a few pale, pudgy guys. C.K.'s characteristic resigned acceptance of his station in life is plain on his face: Shit. These are my people. Finally able to disrobe, he swims out into the ocean -- only to have a Raleigh beach attendant collect his beach chair, along with his wallet and cellphone. From the water, Louie tries waving at the attendant to stop him, a gesture that's mistaken for a drowning signal by the on-duty lifeguard, who swims out to rescue him.
Ramon, the lifeguard, is another example of chiseled, tanned physical perfection. But he turns out to be a friendly, considerate guy. It's our first glimpse behind the curtain of Miami stereotypes perpetuated in the episode's opening minutes: A hot guy who's not a dick! Ramon attends Louie's comedy show later that night, then offers to show him "the real Miami."
"The real Miami," it turns out, is on the mainland. A montage shows Louie and Ramon sipping coco frios and chasing roosters in Little Havana, eventually winding up at a family house party. (Watch closely, and you'll catch a cameo by New Times Broward-Palm Beach music editor Liz Tracy -- the scene was filmed in her backyard.) Louie enjoys the hospitality of Ramon's Cuban parents and grandparents, gets dissed by some more hot chicks, and ultimately gets the warm fuzzies over cocktails and bro bonding with his new dude friend.
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To most people watching, these moments probably seem like they're designed solely to develop Louie's character. But in Miami, we know better. The colorful, laid-back side of Miami -- the one inhabited by your average Spanglish-speaking city-dweller -- is on full display here, portrayed with admiring, detail-focused love. It's nearly impossible that this part of the story isn't based on one of Louis C.K.'s experiences visiting Miami himself (he's done several sets in South Florida over the past couple years). The detail is just too spot-on. When Louie hitches a ride back to his hotel with Ramon and a car-full of his cousins, leaning out car windows to flirt with women in convertibles and howl at fans gathered outside the American Airlines Arena, it's a scene most Miamians have witnessed, if not participated in, at least a dozen times.
The experience inspires Louie to extend his stay in Miami. The story here insists he stays because of the brewing bromance between Louie and Ramon, and to viewers outside the 305, that probably makes a lot of sense. But here in Miami, we recognize a different truth: Ramon is just a metaphor for the city itself, and Louie doesn't want to let him go.
We feel you, Louis C.K. We love this city too. So on behalf of New Times, we just want to say this: Liz's backyard is open to you anytime. We'll bring the coconuts.