Louis CK is a goddamn madman. The comedian and creator of the Emmy nominated series ‘Louie’ is known for his innovative distribution methods. He released his latest comedy specials exclusively on his website in a lovely DRM free format. His only defense against Piracy is a small blurb reading ‘Please don’t steal this special’. In January, Louis CK sent an email newsletter reading ‘Horace and Pete is now available for purchase’. He had released the first episode of a dramatic web-series and didn’t promote it at all.
When you hear the word ‘Web production’, you think of a series of three to five minute episodes with a release cycle as glacial as evolution. Horace and Pete has the production value of a Television series and is presented as a ten act play. It follows the owners of ‘Horace and Pete’s’, a hundred year old bar in Brooklyn run for by generations by a Horace and a Pete. The current Horace and Pete are played by Louis CK and Steve Buscemi. Horace is a depressed divorcee who has long been absent from his old family. Pete is Horace’s cousin, who was released from a psychiatric ward after ten years and works behind the bar to pay for his expensive medication. The two run the dive bar with Uncle Pete, the previous ‘Pete’ played by Alan Alda of M.A.S.H. fame. (I’m really sick of writing the word ‘Pete’). One day, Horace’s sister, Sylvia, played by Edie Falco (of Sopranos and Nurse Jackie fame) re-enters Horace and Petes’ lives and tries to convince them to sell the miserable bar they all grew up in.
Horace and Pete is the polar opposite of Cheers (Note: I’ve never really seen Cheers, as I’m under 40). The series is a melancholic, minimalistic experience. It’s a story of poor decisions, fear of the unknown and the cruelty of fate. The entire show takes place in few sets, all representing parts of the Bar’s building. The monotony is really refreshing. The existential doom is broken up with the occasional philosophical banter. The debates of the barflies brings Louis CK’s characteristic observational comedy into play. The Bar’s regulars are played by a variety of veteran and up-and-coming actors and comics such as Nick DiPaolo, Kurt Metzenger and the patron saint of Deadpan, Steven Wright.
The subjects are surprisingly current (or at least, it was) with the gang discussing topics such as Hulk Hogan’s victory over Gawker and Donald Trump. Alan Alda is a real standout and plays one of the most unapologetically caustic characters ever. Uncle Pete is so unlikeable that he breaks the continuum and becomes likeable, somehow. The part of Uncle Pete was originally written for Famed Bastard, Joe Pesci. The actor turned it down, but not before helping Louis CK craft the character. Pesci’s influence can be seen when Uncle Pete rants about how only lesser men perform cunnilingus. It’s based on a lecture Joe Pesci ACTUALLY gave to Louis CK.
Louis CK describes Horace and Pete as a ‘Tragedy’ and it is so fitting. Before I saw the series, I heard that it was essentially ‘Louie’ with most of the humor sucked out of it. I’m fully confident in saying that Horace and Pete is one of the best television shows of all time, even if it isn’t on TV. The more economically minded would say that the real tragedy is the millions of dollars of debt Louis CK got himself in while producing this series on his own. Yes, Horace and Pete is sad, but it’s a beautiful kind of sadness. Don’t be turned off just because of that. It’s one of realest television shows you’ll ever see.
Who: Louis CK
What: Horace and Pete
Watch: You can purchase Horace and Pete on Louis CK’s website.
- Well realised characters, Thoughtful dialogue, Brilliant writing
- Beautiful sense of misery
- Alan Alda
- Can only be found on Louis CK's website. Go buy it you dick, it's $30 for the season.
- May be too artsy for some.