"It sucks to be a fat girl. Can people just let me say it?"
In last night's episode of Louie, a strange thing happened: a woman asked Louie out on a date. Vanessa, a punchy, gregarious, warm waitress at the Comedy Cellar shamelessly asks Louie out on a date, and he declines. Why? The subtext is that Vanessa is simply too fat. As Jim Norton, Louie's fellow comic, notes in the episode when he sees her, "Yuck." The episode deals with the tension between two realities — Vanessa is a perfect match for Louie, but Louie is too worried about what people think to actually make a connection with a friendly human being. The kicker is, Louie's fat too.
In one of those incredibly poignant moments that feels like a shot through the heart (okay, maybe that's every episode of Louie), Vanessa delivers a seven-minute monologue about why being a fat girl absolutely sucks. It's a raw, indelible scene in which Louis C.K. uses Vanessa (played by a charming Sarah Baker) as a mouth-piece for a lot of his own cultural struggles with his weight and the weight of women he's romantic with. It's as much the writer's mea culpa as it is a condemnation of cultural body standards at large. Like Liz's rooftop speech in the episode "Daddy's Girlfriend," the "fat girl" scene will undoubtedly become one of the most moving, brutally honest moments of the season, and possibly on television this year.
Vanessa points out the fact that, though Louie and her are really about the same size, she is culturally unlovable, whereas Louie is welcome to date whomever he wants without judgment. “You can talk into the microphone and say you can’t get a date, you’re overweight—you’re adorable. If I say it, they call the suicide hotline on me," Vanessa points out. How we deal with being fat is highly gendered. For Louie, he can go off and sleep with a model in the Hamptons or carry on a relationship with Parker Posey, and nobody questions him. For Vanessa, life as a fat girl means nobody wants to hold her hand. Louis C.K. is flipping the script and pointing out the atrocious double standard — everyone will fuck a fat girl, but nobody wants to love one. As Vanessa notes in her monologue to Louie, "It's your fault." The finger of shame isn't pointed at her at all — this one's damning the rest of us.
Watch the incredible single-take scene from "So Did the Fat Lady."
Image via FX.