Every once in a while, a television show comes along that breaks the mold and gives us something that we have never seen done before. In 1989, that show was Seinfeld with then up and coming Jerry Seinfeld.
While it started off very quietly, during the 90s, it quickly grew not only into one of the biggest comedies hits of the decade but one of the most groundbreaking shows in television history. Although it ended on what many may consider a sour note, the show was responsible for some of the funniest and most memorable moments not just in comedy but TV history with many calling it ‘the show about nothing.’
12 years after Seinfeld ended, however, there was another show very similar in tone to Seinfeld starring Louis C.K. on FX entitled Louie:
The show is very similar comedywise and storywise to Seinfeld where it’s just these oddball situations that play out over the course of an episode but in the case of Louie, it’s more out of the norm and equally as funny or sometimes more funnier than Seinfeld. With many believing that Louie is the real ‘show about nothing’ than Seinfeld was.
So, the question of the day is, which ‘show about nothing’ was better, Seinfeld or Louie, well, that’s what we’re here to find out:
SEINFELD VS. LOUIE
Let’s begin with our two main leads, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K., this is best title character:
BEST TITLE CHARACTER
Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld was Jerry is a “minor celeb” stand-up comedian who is often depicted as “the voice of reason” amidst the general insanity generated by the people in his world. The in-show character is a mild germaphobe and neat freak, as well as an avid Superman, New York Mets and breakfast cereal fan. Jerry’s apartment is the center of a world visited by his eccentric friends and a focus of the show. Plot lines often involve Jerry’s social interactions and romantic relationships around New York City. He typically finds minor, pedantic reasons to break up with women, including a habit of eating peas one at a time, oversized “man hands” and an irritating laugh. Other plot lines involve his longtime enemy Newman and his overbearing relatives, whom he meets periodically.
Louie is loosely based on comedian Louis C.K.’s life, showing segments of him doing his stand-up routine onstage, and depicting his life offstage as a divorced father of two girls. Each episode features either two stories (which may or may not connect thematically) or a longer full-episode story (often consisting of numerous connected shorter pieces). The stories of all episodes revolve around Louie.
So, yeah, both characters are very similar in each show but essentially they are playing themselves each as the straight man of this strange world of reality that they live in so it’s hard to choose over one person.
I think in this case, I go with Louie because many of Jerry’s situations that he finds themselves into find these strange oddball situations that can go for the predictable outing and very rarely, do they throw those twists and turns to change the outcome.
In Louie, some of the situations that Louis finds himself involved in don’t even have resolutions to how he gets out of those situations, there’s one episode in particular where Louis’ on a plane and it’s about to crash, all this chaos is going on and then, the next scene is them literally getting off the plane and it’s like nothing happened, and they never explain what happens in between, here’s the clip itself:
I mean, we’ll never know what happens but it makes it all the more hilarious when you see their reactions at the end.
So, that’s why I give Louie the win here. Point goes to Louie
BEST TITLE CHARACTER WINNER: Louie
But both Jerry and Louis have to have a lovely batch of supporting characters to get them through the day, this is best supporting cast:
BEST SUPPORTING CAST
In Louie, you have…not that big of a supporting cast since the show mainly focuses on Louie’s interactions with new characters. However, the show features a number of recurring characters, including Louie’s two daughters, Lilly (Hadley Delany) and Jane (Ursula Parker); his brother Robbie (Robert Kelly); his teenage-looking agent Doug (Edward Gelbinovich); Pamela (Pamela Adlon), the playdate friend and potential love interest; Dr. Ben (Ricky Gervais), Louie’s obnoxious and immature doctor; Louie’s therapist (David Patrick Kelly); and his ex-wife, Janet (Susan Kelechi Watson).
With Seinfeld, you’ve got, of course, Jerry’s ex that’s still friends, Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), his friend George Costanza (Jason Alexander), and neighbor Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) and you also had a supporting cast filled with so many memorable characters and by trying to list the entire roster of characters would take too long to fully reveal all of them.
In this case, I gotta go with Seinfeld because of all the memorable characters the show had to offer, a lot of them still hold up to this very day and while the cast in Louie is really solid, they can’t quite reach the levels set by Seinfeld.
Point goes to Seinfeld.
BEST SUPPORTING CAST WINNER: Seinfeld
But which show had the strongest aspects of comedy thrown into it, let’s take a look at the best comedy:
As we said before, Louie is great for having those elements of comedy where you can be thrown into the worst possible outcome but they will still find these unique ways to get out of the situation in the most funniest of ways possible. It’s one of those unique comedic styles that doesn’t come around very often and it’s brilliant because of it.
Seinfeld’s comedic style takes a lot from the style of the Looney Tunes with Jerry and George kind of the Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck of the show, and heck, you could also say the same that Kramer is kind of the Wile E. Coyote of the show. And like I said, they basically take these situations that can end in predictable outcomes and have the predictable outcomes but very often, can still manage to pack on a ton of great laughs to it.
One example where the joke can change because of the scenario comes in one episode where Jerry meets an old rival, who suspects that he cheated in a high school race, and is set for a rematch where he’ll more than likely have to come face to face with the truth but the way the subplot’s storyline comes into it leads to one of the funniest and best outcomes it could possibly have…and ignore the first 30 seconds, that’s from another episode completely but still a funny one, it’s the second half I want you to focus on:
Yeah, it’s hard to pick which one has the better comedy involved, Louie’s comedy can be really sharp and hilarious and take you by surprise but Seinfeld, I think, did such a good job of creating some of the funniest outcomes you could come up even if some of them can be a little too predictable.
Not an easy one to choose from but I’m going with Seinfeld for this one.
BEST COMEDY WINNER: Seinfeld
The comedy’s great but what about the writing overall, which show did it better? Let’s find out:
With Seinfeld, many of the scripts were penned not just by Seinfeld but show creator Larry David, in fact, most of the first two seasons’ scripts were penned by both Seinfeld and David and Larry Charles. It wasn’t until the third season when they started bringing a full writing staff into the mix.
Meanwhile, Louie continues to use the same writer, Louis C.K., for most of the series, while every once in a while people like Pamela Adlon, Robert Smigel and Steven Wright will come in but it’s mostly C.K. writing his episodes.
Again, this is a tough call because both shows had some really solid writing to it, in this case, I give it to Louie mostly because the fact that Louis C.K. is mostly doing the work and the fact that he’s the actor, the writer and the director for a number of these episodes, it just goes to show all the hard work he’s putting into making the show come together.
Point goes to Louie.
BEST WRITING WINNER: Louie
It all comes down to which show is the overall better show, who’s the true show about nothing? Let’s find out:
BEST OVERALL SHOW
Seinfeld is a near perfect series. It’s got characters that you like and want to see succeed, the storylines are done very well, the comedy is top-notch, and it’s just an overall enjoyable show.
I only have two flaws with it. One is that the show may say it’s about “nothing” but it isn’t. FX’s Louie would be a better example of a show about “nothing”. Seinfeld is about something, it’s about life for a stand up comic, how does he get material for his jokes, and how his friends are part of his comic material.
My other flaw that makes me not say that this is a perfect series is the last episode. It is one of the worst finales I have ever seen because it takes these characters that we’ve rooted for over the years and just throws them under the bus and sends them to jail. It really felt like they couldn’t think of a better way to send them off and just came up with the last thing they said before it was quitting time. It’s just so awful. Other than those two flaws, everything else about Seinfeld does work and works really well.
Louie is smart, funny, satrical comedy that is more of a show about nothing than Seinfeld was.
Literally, every episode is about a different subject and sometimes there’s two stories (not subplots) in one episode, something you hardly ever seen in comedy series.
Add in the smart comedic talent of Louis C.K., who writes and directs each episode, and you have one of the funniest and smartly written shows on TV.
It’s shows like this that prove that not every TV show is the same old show we’ve seen done over and over again. And that’s the power of FX, they are willing to take chances and they’re not afraid to go over the edge.
Louie is smart, it’s funny, it’s just so much fun to watch. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are definitely missing out on one of TV’s best gems.
And on that forefront, the automatic winner of this one is Louie, the superior show.
BEST OVERALL SHOW WINNER: Louie
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