5 Father Figures in 'Louie' In the Woods: Manhood and Becoming an Adult

The Louie episodes In the Woods 1 and 2 which aired last night on FX were highly distressing to watch if you have teenagers in your lives you are charged with taking care of, and verisimilar of your own youth (if you can even remember back that far).

The set-up of last night's theme began with Louie at a weird concert/dance/potfest mishmash with his friend (guest star comedian Todd Barry) when he catches sight of his 12-year-old daughter Lilly, smoking pot at the dance/concert hybrid.

For the next minute or so, the only words spoken are Lilly screaming "Daddy! Dad! Stop, you're embarrassing me," as he drags her away from her friends.

And thus begins the two-parter episode about fathers, and the different ways people parent kids -- even the ones that aren't theirs.

These episodes deal with what we find out Louie saw as his introduction to manhood and his steps towards becoming an adult. Below, the archetypes of fathers we see in these episodes:

1) The Cool, Caring Father, Played By: Mr. Hoffman, AKA The Science Teacher

Speaking as a recovering teacher, Hoffman is an excellent one. He combines caring with his students with a profound knowledge of what makes them tick (hint: it's themselves.

Kids are the ultimate narcissists) as well as his subject area.

He does a great job engaging the kids, and Louie in particular.

Bar none, the worst part of this episode is his interest in Louie and the way Louie betrays his trust in his quest for weed, pot, and, for a change, some cannabis sativa.

Louie's relationship with Mr. Hoffman is really the vehicle for character development in these episodes.

Hoffman is the one to pull him out of his shell, as he is the one Louie steals from in order to feed his drug habit, as he is the one to stand up for Louie when the principal rightly accuses him of stealing Hoffman's scales.

(This, actually, is based on a real-life event where Louie stole 14 scales -- not the ten featured in the episode -- and a bunch of teachers defended Louie to the vice principal who had, like in the episode, rightly accused him.) Eventually he gets a full confession and apology from Louie, but by doing so, Louie has burned a bridge he will never have the opportunity to rebuild.

This is the moment we begin to see real change in Louie, though it is hard-won.

2) The Absentee Father, Played By: Louie's Father

Well, it's like you suspect. He's not really around until he suddenly is, and is demanding that Louie pay attention to him. That, of course, doesn't go very well. I'll leave Louie's reaction to your imagination. It's probably spot-on.

3) The Abusive Father, Played By: Drug Dealer Jeremy Renner

(His name in the episode is Jeff Davis, but I think Drug Dealer Jeremy Renner has a real catchiness to it.)

DDJR is the calm, laid-back drug dealer you never expected to see on television until he suddenly isn't, at which point he becomes the abusive, scary monster you thought would show up eventually.

He's the first one in this whole mess to tell Louie that he made this mess; he must be the one to clean it up.

He says it far more elegantly than I ever could, of course ("That is some real man-shit right there,") but we must make do with what we must.

4) The Guilt-Tripping Father, Played By: The School Principal

Louie's principal is your classic say-everything do-nothing father. He is the authority figure in the school and is responsible for punishing those who have transgressed against the rules, but can't seem to follow through.

He caught Louie and his friends red-handed after blowing up a trash can and did nothing, just like he did nothing when he pulled Louie in to his office to speak with him alone.

He thinks the guilt-trip is the best punishment, and maybe he was right.

After all, he was the first to set the ball rolling, setting off a chain reaction by sending Louie straight to Drug Dealer Jeremy Renner to ask for the scales back that he stole from his science teacher.

5) Louie, Played By: Louie

Louie takes his parenting style from the best parts of his mother, played by Amy Landecker. While she initially handles his change into a smoking-driven stranger very badly -- searching his room but not actually confronting Louie about her suspicions, calling his father to handle it instead of doing so herself, and eventually screaming at him.

Her last act in these episodes is to bring Louie to a counselor and make him take responsibility for his own actions, which is more of what we see from Louie with his daughter, Lilly.

He tells her that he's there for her -- which his hippy-dippy counselor told him parents essentially couldn't be, since they were the reason Louie must have been smoking pot -- and gives her a hug.

All in all, it's a damn decent way to end two episodes that hit pretty hard.