Louie’s a guy who’s never been proud of his weight. That much is obvious. He’s gone on long rants about just how gross he, and presumably others, think his body is.
That self-loathing ties into the most prominent themes in this episode – beautiful aesthetic (achieved through artificial means) vs. beautiful personality (achieved through genuine experiences), which meshes nicely with perception vs. reality and culminates with sexuality.
There might not be a better place on the planet to put these themes on full display than in the home of Nip/Tuck, "Miami," a city known for its overwhelming obsession with appearance, but, as we find out, also has an authentic charm that most tourists and even long-time residents don’t ever see or know about.
Right off the bat, the ‘fish out of water’ angle is painfully obvious.
Louie – a pale, overweight redhead wearing the traditional New York black - sticks out like a sore thumb among the bright colors, breast implants, and impeccable pecs... and that’s just in his hotel lobby. On the beach, his neurosis and fear only worsens. EVERYONE is tan and has abs. They smile as Louie lives through a nightmare. In case we weren’t getting the message, Louie slams it home by having a group of hyper attractive people literally barrel over him without missing a beat.
Why should they care? He’s not one of them. If you’re not hot, you’re not visible. They apologize but it’s not heartfelt, it’s mostly out of pity.
That’s when we get to meet Ramon, a lifeguard who mistakenly thinks Louie is drowning when in fact he’s hollering at a beach employee to not take his chair. There’s a shot from behind Ramon as he sits atop his lifeguard stand that allows us to see the tattoo that spans his upper back. It reads, ‘King of Kings’.
I thought this was an excellent use of foreshadowing but also a quick way of establishing Ramon’s character – though he doesn’t live like a king in the more traditional sense (wealth, power, etc.), we come to find out that he’s rich in the experiential sense (friends, family, love, etc.).
His real confidence bursts forth in just about everything he does and our first indication of that is when he discovers Louie’s a comedian and remarks honestly about "the gift of laughter." It catches Louie off-guard, serving as a breath of fresh air. Louie doesn’t want to be like any of the fake, self-centered a-holes he’s seen (the Miami he used to know to paraphrase Gotye), whereas Ramon’s attractiveness comes from deeper, more culturally enriching moments (the real Miami) and Louie falls in love with that.
I feel gay writing that and that’s exactly the psychological hang-up Louie addresses in the final act.
After spending so much time with Ramon, getting to know him more, meeting and partying with his friends and family, Louie grows attached to him in a powerfully emotional way, NOT a sexual way. So, when Louie extends his trip to get in more face time and his ex-wife plants the idea of a budding sexual relationship (assuming the reason is a girl), Louie can’t seem to shake that misplaced feeling when with Ramon.
Some would call it a ‘bromance’ but I loathe that expression, which only supports Louie’s final affirmation at the end of the episode as he performs on stage. Heterosexual men are the only group who worry about being considered gay. That thought process absolutely PARALYZED Louie when he tried to explain his feelings to Ramon at the hotel lobby bar.
He couldn’t because he didn’t want to sound gay, but in the process, he sounded like schoolgirl who had a crush, thus giving Ramon the impression that he’s gay. If you weren’t shaking the HD out of your TV for Louie to just say, ‘I’m not gay’ then you’re probably not a heterosexual man. And that’s fine. That’s Louie’s point. He finds our (read: heterosexual men) inability to be real or to be who we really are fascinating just as much as he genuinely fell in love with Ramon’s way of being.
But, even as Ramon appears to be well-rounded and spiritually/emotionally ‘perfect’ in Louie’s eyes, he’s still a heterosexual man who’s been raised in Miami and doesn’t want to be considered gay.
In watching this comedy born from real-life drama, the laughs are more genuine, they don’t come cheap. Louie makes us earn each and every chuckle, but despite the fact our enjoyment comes from something artificial (a fictional show), it’s still fulfilling and enriching. Cue the ‘More You Know’ Star.