Horace and Pete
|Horace and Pete|
|Created by||Louis C.K.|
|Written by||Louis C.K.|
|Directed by||Louis C.K.|
|Opening theme||"Horace and Pete" written and performed by Paul Simon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
M. Blair Breard
|Production location(s)||New York|
|Running time||30–67 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Pig Newton, Inc.|
|Original release||January 30– April 2, 2016|
Horace and Pete is an American comedy-drama web series created by Louis C.K. starring himself and Steve Buscemi as Horace and Pete, co-owners of a bar, Horace and Pete's. The first episode was released on January 30, 2016, on C.K.'s website without any prior announcements, and the last of the 10 episodes was released on April 2, 2016.
The series is set in a run-down family-owned bar called Horace and Pete's in Brooklyn, New York. The bar has been owned by the family since 1916 and has been passed down through several generations, always with a Horace and a Pete in charge. The current owners are the 49-year-old Horace Wittel VIII, who inherited the bar when his father Horace Wittel VII died one year earlier, and his 52-year-old cousin Pete. The bar is old-fashioned and tradition-bound; for example no mixed drinks are served and the only beer they sell is Budweiser on tap. Pricing is variable, depending on whether the customer is a regular or a hipster who is drinking there "ironically." For many years, the management has been watering down the drinks, even justifying it to themselves by saying their alcoholic regular customers would be dead by now if they were drinking full strength liquor.
The regular bartender is Uncle Pete (the "previous Pete"), an acerbic foul-mouthed old bigot who insults everyone around him but is frequently entertaining. Regular customers include Marsha, an aging but still attractive alcoholic who was Horace senior's last sexual partner before his death; Kurt, an opinionated loudmouth; and Leon, a laconic barroom philosopher.
A feature of the series was the frequent references to highly topical current events during the bar-room discussions. This was made possible by the very short time frames between the production and release of the episodes (less than a week). Other story lines appeared to take place over longer periods.
Cast and characters
- Louis C.K. as Horace Wittel VIII (and as VII in episode 10)
- Steve Buscemi as Pete Wittel (and as Uncle Pete Wittel in episode 10)
- Edie Falco as Sylvia (and as her mother in episode 10)
- Steven Wright as Leon
- Kurt Metzger as Kurt
- Alan Alda as Uncle Pete Wittel
- Jessica Lange as Marsha Green
- Aidy Bryant as Alice
- Nick DiPaolo as Nick
- Tom Noonan as Tom
- Liza Treyger as Melissa
- Greer Barnes as Carl
- Maria Dizzia as Tricia
- Karen Pittman as Rhonda
- Dov Davidoff as Dom
- Mark Normand as Mark
C.K. said that the show was inspired by Mike Leigh's 1977 play, Abigail's Party, wrote using improvisation, and which was then made into a multi-camera sitcom TV adaptation. The story takes place during the course of a night, over drinks and dinner. It is one scene over two hours.
The idea was a sitcom with no audience or laugh-track, multi-camera, shot from a stage-like perspective (i.e., from one angle). The focus would be, similar to Abigail's Party, focused on a family. Steve Buscemi came on board first, then Edie Falco and Jessica Lange. C.K. said that the cast will get a portion of the profits. C.K. originally tried to cast Joe Pesci for the role of Uncle Pete Wittel, which was played by Alan Alda.
C.K. said that each episode cost half a million dollars to shoot. The strategy was that C.K. would make the first four episodes and use the money people paid for those to fund the rest of the season. Due to lack of promotion, there wasn't enough money and he went into debt to fund the production of the show. After he finished production on the show C.K. went on a promotional tour to promote the show and recoup some of the costs.
The first episode was released on January 30, 2016, with no press or previous mention. Subscribers to C.K.'s mailing list received an email notice of its availability. It is a continuation of the sell-through direct-to-consumer model that C.K. used successfully in prior releases of content. Eventually C.K. said he would sell the show to another outlet (i.e., a cable and/or streaming service) eventually, but wanted to use this sales model as a fun experiment to innovate distribution.
C.K. explained that the direct-to-consumer, sell-through model of pricing the pilot at $5 would allow him to produce following episodes. On his website, he discussed the challenges of creating, shooting, and releasing a multi-camera TV show and addressed the pricing, revealing a tiered cheaper price for the remaining episodes of the show: $5 for the first episode, $2 for the next, and the $3 for the rest of the episodes. The show has a very short production-release model, as episode 2 was being shot the week following the pilot, and was released a week after the first episode was made public, with following episodes to come. Episodes had no predetermined running time, ranging in length from 30 minutes to 67 minutes. The closing credits for episode 5 include the notice: End of Act 1. At the close of episode 10, C.K. announces "That's a wrap on Horace and Pete" while the cast applaud in a kind of curtain call. Shortly after the final episode was released, C.K. revealed that guest actress Amy Sedaris, a late casting decision, had developed her own character and improvised all her dialogue.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Length|
|1||"Episode 1"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||January 30, 2016||67 minutes|
|Horace and Pete are co-owners of Horace and Pete's, a 100-year old family-owned bar which has been run by a Horace and a Pete for seven generations. The customers often argue about politics (specifically Donald Trump) and the showboating antics of Cam Newton. Horace has a strained relationship with his daughter Alice and his son refuses to speak to him. Horace's sister Sylvia arrives with her lawyer and gives notice that she intends to sue the bar for her share of the inheritance and to sell it, as the bar is unprofitable due to years of mismanagement. Uncle Pete reveals that he is Pete's true father, but he gave him up to be raised by Horace's father because he "doesn't like kids". Pete, a kindly man with mental health issues, can no longer afford to take his expensive medication due to an insurance mix-up and has a meltdown. Horace abruptly asks his girlfriend Rachel (Rebecca Hall) to move out.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||February 6, 2016||51 minutes|
|The episode opens with Horace being woken by Marsha, who flirts with him; it later becomes clear that this is Horace's strange sexual fantasy. Marsha brings Dennis the tire store entrepreneur, into the bar on a date. Sylvia tells Horace she has breast cancer, and reveals she wants to sell the bar to pay medical bills. Horace goes to lunch with his daughter Alice; she is a law student, and has accommodation problems after being ripped off by her room-mate. Horace explains that he kicked out his girlfriend Rachel so that she could move in, but she declines. A customer complains that Uncle Pete charged him more than another customer for a beer, and Horace defuses the situation. Horace has another strange fantasy about Marsha. Pete is visited by Tricia, a woman with Tourette syndrome he met while he was in a psychiatric hospital.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||February 13, 2016||43 minutes|
|Horace's ex-wife Sarah (Laurie Metcalf), who is eleven years his senior, visits the bar. She confides in Horace, describing in vivid detail the events which led to her having an affair with her new husband's fit and active 84-year-old father. She is hoping that Horace, who cheated on her with her sister, will be able to relate to her situation. After excusing himself to go to the rest room, Horace tells her that her affair is certain to be discovered, that it will certainly cause a great deal of hurt and will certainly lead to the end of her marriage; however she will be unable to stop doing it.|
|4||"Episode 4"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||February 20, 2016||30 minutes|
|Carl (Greer Barnes), an African American customer, ribs Uncle Pete about his angry reaction to a basketball game, and about his racism. Some of the regulars discuss abortion, and the old Catholic doctrine of Limbo. Nobody is interested in hearing a woman's perspective from Melissa. Horace is depressed and taciturn; Uncle Pete suggests he needs some casual sex. Horace makes a booty call to Maggie (Nina Arianda), a former sexual partner who used to work at the bar. Since they last met, she impulsively married a pilot, who later died suddenly. Maggie starts to make out with Horace, but he is so depressed that she no longer wants to have sex with him. Pete and Uncle Pete talk about Horace and Maggie; Pete says Maggie liked him for his cunnilingus skills. Uncle Pete is disgusted - he strongly believes that a man should not take a subservient role during sex. Pete and Uncle Pete have a discussion about sex and love.|
|5||"Episode 5"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||February 27, 2016||33 minutes|
|The family hold a wake in the bar for Uncle Pete, who has recently committed suicide. Marsha talks about her early life; she has been a heavy drinker since the age of 13, and was eventually "adopted" by Horace senior. The family are no longer prepared to support her and she leaves the bar. Sylvia's illness has resulted in tensions between her and her daughter Brenda. At the bar, Kurt again expounds on his nihilistic political views. An obnoxious customer (Michael Cyril Creighton) annoys Tom, one of the regulars, and a fight almost breaks out. Pete begs Horace and Sylvia not to sell the bar, saying this is the only life he knows, but Sylvia can't afford her cancer treatment. Horace suggests as a compromise that Sylvia become involved in managing the bar as a co-owner. Kurt is irritated by people who complain about their lives, saying if it's so bad why don't they just kill themselves? Pete replies, "because maybe things will get better".|
|6||"Episode 6"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||March 5, 2016||37 minutes|
|Pete goes on a date with Jenny (Hannah Dunne), a woman he met online. Pete, who was honest in his profile and was looking for a woman close to his own age, is somewhat disconcerted when she turns out to be much younger than she claimed in her profile. She is a sweet, somewhat conservative and old-fashioned small town girl from Michigan who says grace before meals and prefers older men because they have better manners. The date starts awkwardly, but they warm to each other and begin a romantic relationship. Jenny comes to have dinner at the apartment and meets Horace and Sylvia. Sylvia and Horace cruelly sabotage their relationship by barraging Jenny with Pete's flaws, including his mental illness. Jenny berates Sylvia and Horace and walks out.|
|7||"Episode 7"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||March 12, 2016||50 minutes|
|Kurt tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in his own crude fashion, to the general amusement of the bar. Without warning, Sylvia kicks him out for saying the word "cunt". A customer named Rick (Rick Shapiro) is interested in Sylvia and tries to talk to her, but she shows no interest. Pete has a discussion with Ricardo (Craig muMs Grant), a childhood friend who is now a NYPD officer detailed to guard the mayor. Pete wants help to make the bar a landmark, so that Sylvia has more difficulty selling it. Horace's daughter Alice visits the bar with her boyfriend Eric (Conner O'Malley); awkward conversation ensues. Horace meets a woman named Rhonda (Karen Pittman) at the bar. She spends the night with him. The next morning, Rhonda suggests (but never confirms) that she might be a trans woman. Horace isn't sure if she is joking, but is forced to consider his own attitudes towards transgender people. During the conversation Horace tells Rhonda that his two children were born at about the same time, one to his wife Sarah and the other to her younger sister Rosemary. Sylvia gets good news regarding test results related to her cancer treatment.|
|8||"Episode 8"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||March 19, 2016||35 minutes|
|Sylvia, Horace and their overnight guests (Harold (Reg E. Cathey) and Rhonda, respectively) are awkwardly introduced to each other in the morning. Horace and Pete visit Pete's doctor (Colman Domingo) who tells them that Pete's medication is being discontinued and he will have to be readmitted to the hospital in a month. Pete is devastated. At the bar Kurt explains why he takes LSD and how he believes computers will eventually take over the world. Nick has an unpleasant conversation with Lucy (Lucy Taylor) who is drunk and to whom he hasn't spoken since they slept together. Later, she becomes increasingly drunk and abusive until Sylvia and Horace make her leave. Pete explains to Horace how terrible his life is when he is off his medication and hallucinating. Tricia comes to visit Pete and offers him support when he talks about his fears of going off the medicine, returning to the hospital, and his thoughts of committing suicide.|
|9||"Episode 9"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||March 26, 2016||36 minutes|
|Sylvia interviews Jerold (John Sharian) for a job at the bar, but rejects him because of an old manslaughter conviction. A couple (Haynes Thigpen and Ann Carr) who made contact online meet at the bar, with disastrous results. Kurt advises the woman that online dating doesn't work, because people bond based on a rare "chemistry" between them rather than on common interests. Tom talks about his failure as an actor and his inability to find love, leading to his alcoholism. Leon asks about Pete, and Horace says that he has been missing for a week. It is revealed that Leon is sober and drinks only apple juice, but he enjoys sitting at the bar. Horace visits Tricia in the hospital; she has been severely beaten by Pete, who has no previous history of violence. She had attempted to wean him off his medication, naively believing that their mutual love would see them through. Kurt, Sylvia and others argue over Hulk Hogan's large damages award for breach of privacy. Horace is very upset about Pete's disappearance; when Kurt attempts to joke about it Horace physically attacks him. Mayor Bill de Blasio (played by himself) pays an unexpected visit to the bar. Horace retires to Pete's room and weeps. An imaginary conversation in the bar between Pete and Uncle Pete is presented. The episode closes with a quote from the recently deceased Garry Shandling.|
|10||"Episode 10"||Louis C.K.||Louis C.K.||April 2, 2016||54 minutes|
|The first half of the episode is set in 1976. Horace senior (Louis C.K.) is abusive and controlling towards his wife Marianne (Edie Falco) and children; he forbids his wife from seeing her sister Abbie (Deborah Offner). In the bar, a broke customer (David Blaine) attempts to scam free drinks with a magic trick. Jimmy (Colin Quinn) and other customers argue about the presidential candidacy of Jimmy Carter. Uncle Pete (Steve Buscemi) humiliates his nephew Horace in front of the customers. Marianne finally walks out on her husband after years of abuse taking Sylvia (Sofia Hublitz) and Horace (Jack Gore), but leaving Pete (Nolan Lyons). The second half of the episode is set in the present. Kurt and other customers discuss Donald Trump. Ricardo visits the bar and tells Horace and Sylvia that Pete is almost certainly dead, and they will have to call the search off. Sylvia tells Horace that she intends to leave the bar and live with Harold. An eccentric and extraverted woman named Mara (Amy Sedaris) lifts Horace's mood when she interviews for the job. Horace tells Sylvia he knows what he wants to do with his life now. Pete returns to the bar and picks up a knife. Sylvia screams as Pete kills Horace. As Sylvia prepares to leave with Harold, Horace's son, Horace IX (Angus T. Jones) comes in the bar and asks about his father. Sylvia says there was nothing particularly distinctive about Horace, then breaks down in tears.|
The theme song was written by Paul Simon. C.K. asked Simon to write the theme song via email, let Simon read all 10 scripts, and then the two went into the studio for a day to work on the song.
Critics have been generally positive towards Horace and Pete, with a consensus that the show feels like a filmed stage play. It was favorably compared to Playhouse 90, with critic Matt Zoller Seitz calling it "aggressively classical." The show has been described as being filmed live, with a realism that reflects technical imperfections that add to subtle moments by a cast of veteran actors. Filmmaker Stephen Cone gave significant praise to the series in terms of Louis C.K.'s hybridization of film, TV, and theater, comparing him to French film director Alain Resnais and stating: "Leave it to Louis C.K. to save cinema – whatever that means – with a goddamn web series."
On March 29, 2016, it was reported that Louis C.K. intends to enter the series in the drama category for the Emmy Awards. Lead actors C.K. and Steve Buscemi, supporting actors Alan Alda, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger, Jessica Lange and Edie Falco and guest stars Laurie Metcalf and Aidy Bryant are also reportedly being considered for awards.
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