The 14-episode fourth season of Louie ended on Monday after seven weeks of dating ennui, hurricane recreations, and stoner backstories. It's been a somewhat controversial season, in which the show shifted farther from the comedy of season one and more toward dramedy, with three multi-episode spanning stories taking up the bulk of the season. We spoke to the show's executive producer Blair Breard, who has been collaborating with Louis C.K. for over a decade (ever since a little film called Pootie Tang). She talked all about those changes, as well as filming around NYC, recreating Hurricane Sandy, and the show's future.

Note: this interview took place a few days before the season finales, "Pamela" parts 2 and 3.

I saw you and C.K. last fall at the Paley Center event, just as you guys were starting work on season four. Oh yeah, right! That was really fun. It was so great for us to be able to see the actors projected on such a big and beautiful screen and watch them with an audience. It's really rare for us to watch with viewers and see their reactions.

He said at one point that there was an episode in this season that he "had a stomach ache about." Do you know which episode he was talking about? I mean, I think he might be able to say several. [Laughs]

I thought perhaps it was "Pamela" part 1 that he might have been talking about. I've heard that one, although...well, you haven't seen the next two episodes yet ["Pamela" parts 2 and 3], so I'll be interested to see what the response is. "Pamela" part 1 has generated so many interesting conversations. But, I'm not sure, it might have been "Elevator" part 6, where we had Hurricane Sandy.

Well actually, I'm projecting because that's probably the episode that gave me the biggest stomach ache, because I actually had to recreate it. Louis was telling me what he wanted to do and I thought, 'You want to recreate Hurricane Sandy? Okay. And we're having a blackout in all of downtown Manhattan? Okay, I'll figure it out.'

So that was the episode for me that was the stomach ache. But for him, I think maybe it was "So Did The Fat Lady"—one in which he put his character in a lot of difficult and challenging situations. There's a lot of women in these episodes and there are a lot of conversations about what's happened to them, so, maybe he had a stomach ache about the whole season.

Some people I've talked to have been confused by the way the season has been structured—despite there being two episodes per week, there have been a lot of multi-part episodes, like the "Pamela" ones, that have been separated by multiple weeks. Was that something you guys had planned for, or was this sprung on you [by FX]? Do you think that has been good for the show? We talked about it a lot. Even if we hadn't done two episodes per night, "Pamela" part 1 would have been followed with the "In The Woods" episodes, no matter what, even if they had played out every Monday for 14 weeks. That was a creative choice for Louis.

When we shoot the episodes we aren't sure what order they're going to air, so we had many conversations about how this season should unfold. And the first three episodes really felt much more typical of the first three seasons. Then we had this long six-episode arc, the "Elevator" episodes with Evanka (Ellen Burstyn) and Amia (Eszter Balint).

We felt it was important that "Model" and "So Did The Fat Lady," those experiences with those two different women, came before Louie met this woman Amia and they had this long story together. It wouldn't have made sense to start with that without first having him go through them. We felt similarly with the first "Pamela" episode, it doesn't really make sense for it to come that early in the season. We always really wanted the last two "Pamela" episodes to finish the season.

Some of the choices about the airing are really subtle and they're maybe not choices anyone else would care about or respond to. But for me they were very meaningful, and it was up until the very last minute that we were deciding on the order, particularly of the first three. We originally talked about possibly leading with "Model" or "So Did The Fat Lady," but "Back" is funny, it's light and the garbageman scene is really delightful, so it ultimately felt like the right one to start the season with.

One major critic at Vulture asked whether Louis could be "trolling" his audience and the internet with the way he structured the season. ["I wonder if he's airing the episodes in an order that encourages everyone to jump to conclusions that they'll have to retract, qualify, or amend later."] Yes, that's possible. He does not do anything without thinking about it for a long time. He's very, very careful and very methodical about the choices he makes in the way it airs. So I'm curious to see what happens after [the "Pamela" finale], how it changes how people saw the first part.

A lot of people have written about how Louie has tilted and become more of a drama at this point. Do you think that's fair? Did you guys have a different vision for this season than previous ones? I do think that's fair. One of the things I talked about during the Paley Center chat is that whether we make movies or we make television, we're classified as 'romantic comedies!', 'comedies!', 'drama!', 'classics!', all these different labels, and the lines with Louie are blurred. [It fits in] with the television that's being made today—wasn't this the year that Orange Is The New Black changed from comedy to drama? Even season one, if you think about "Bully," I remember reading that when Louis gave it to me and saying, 'This isn't funny at all,' or the episode "God" in season one. He isn't in that episode, but there was a boy and he was in Catholic School. The teacher dropped him off at the church, he has commune, and Tom Noonan explains what happens to a body when it gets crucified.

I read that and thought, 'Oh my god, this isn't funny at all. This is very dramatic and intense, how are people going to react?' But these are really human stories and we got very positive reactions, particularly to "Bully." So we're a comedy, Louis has his stand-up bits still and there are a lot of really funny things in our show, but there are stories that are a lot more dramatic and they are just real.

I think each episode now still has humor in it, but they're processed through Louis C.K. and "Louie" the character's sensibility. They're definitely more dramatic, and he probably thought about that a lot before we started shooting—how are they going to react to this? This was probably less comedic than the other seasons. But, if you look at the first three episodes, as I was saying, I think they're much more in line with the first three seasons. And there's the longer narratives of the "Elevator" and the "Pamela" episodes that bring up a lot of issues. But I do think it's absolutely fair to say that it's more dramatic, more than it has been in the past.

Do you think that this movement to the more dramatic side of his personality was influenced at all by the cult of Louis C.K.? The fact that if he tweets about something, like Common Core, or goes on a late night show, it almost inevitably will go viral the next day. You're going to see it posted everywhere. Do you think that has changed how he's gone about writing and making the show? Well I think it'd be disingenuous to say that he wasn't aware of it. He's certainly aware of it. And I think that he does try hard to insulate himself to a degree as an artist. This is also why he took off for a whole year. I think he felt like he couldn't even walk down the street without hearing, 'Louie C.K.!' And he said he didn't have anything to write about. He needed to be able to just be a person so he could come up with stuff that's truthful and meaningful. He's a very, very intelligent and thoughtful person, and like everyone, he's grown and matured. And so the things that are interesting to him might be more serious now.

During that break between season three and four, were you worried at all that he might lose interest in the show, or get involved in other projects? Well, I guess I was a little worried. That's what I do, I'm paid to worry, it's in my nature. But I've been working with Louis for such a long time. Whether or not he decided to not do the show anymore would be one thing, but I don't think he would stop making art or writing, because that's just who he is. I thought, 'Oh maybe he'll stop doing the show and he'll want to go make a movie instead.'

But I think the show is just such a good format for his particular voice. If you look at how the show has evolved from the pilot episode to this final episode of season four, his voice has matured, and he's just now become interested in telling longer stories. So maybe the half hour show doesn't really pair with what he has to say anymore. We haven't had a huge conversation about that, but it's evident that he's into longer things now: "In The Woods" was the same length as a movie, and the "Elevator" episodes are more like short films.

Right, and you had "The Late Show" episodes from season three as well. Have you guys talked at all about doing a feature-length project, is that something that's on the radar at all? There are no immediate plans to make a feature film. But could I see that happening sometime in the future? Absolutely. He has written feature films before. He made a film called Tomorrow Night, which is now on his website. We worked on a film together called Pootie Tang.

Of course, everybody knows Pootie Tang. Well, everybody should know Pootie Tang. But we've been lucky to work with FX, because they let all this flow. We're a comedy, and I think that's still pretty much the genre, but there's been a lot more dramatic elements this season than ever before. But as you can see in the first three episodes, the half hour show still really works. I'm not sure that a story like "Model" or "So Did The Fat Lady" or "Back" would work longer than that.

I guess this is the benefit, the flexibility of the show: the fact that it can encompass all of these different forms. Yeah. We're very unique. And we're just unbelievably fortunate for the situation we're in.

Before the new season started, does he talk about his ideas or concepts for the new season? Do you guys hash things out? No. [Laughs] He's very private. He just starts writing and he starts giving me scripts. We'll talk about an idea he has and he'll kind of bounce it around a little bit, but he's very solitary as a writer.

Were there any episodes this season that particularly surprised you when you read them? "Elevator," the six-parter. It didn't start out as six parts, there were fewer connected together, but I think that one really surprised me. Having a story that long, and especially with a person who doesn't even speak English, I didn't know how that was going to play out. I didn't know how dramatic or funny that was going to be. I thought it was a big chance to be taking. But the writing was still good, and I just thought the audience will be with us or they won't. We may lose some people and other people may find it to be a really interesting new direction.

But that one was the most intriguing to me in that sense. Also, physically what we had to do in creating the hurricane—that was the biggest production set piece we've ever done. As everybody knows, we have a very limited budget, so that was very exciting and terrifying and challenging. I just wanted it to look good and not like some film school thing. I was concerned about that. We try to up the ante every year and the whole arc of that story, combined with the hurricane element, felt like we were in new territory.

But we've also done a lot of traveling. We went to China and we've worked in Boston, and we did a whole episode in Miami, and a couple in Los Angeles. And the other biggest one really was "Ducklings" [from season two]. We had the Army, and black hawk helicopters. That was a really, really big production. We had donkeys and people from Afghanistan.

So this year we didn't travel anywhere, we shot everything in and around New York state. It was really important for Louis to create this sense of chaos and darkness that everyone felt when Lower Manhattan lost power below 23rd Street when Hurricane Sandy happened. It was so scary in New York if you lived in the blackout zone, and it was really important to get that right.

I've talked in the past about how there are certain things that he will bend on and let go in terms of authenticity. Then there are things he won't. Like, we had to shoot in the Russian Tea Room. There was no negotiating that. I tried to talk him out of it. It was a complicated place to work. There are very strict limitations on time and money, but it had to be that.

With that hurricane it was the same thing. There were many alternatives I suggested to him, none of which he accepted. But the great thing was, he pushed us all to recreate that. We did it all practically, there's no visual effects, there's no CGI in that sequence at all, and we all worked really hard and creatively to get the shots that we needed so you really felt like that was happening.

How do you guys usually choose your NYC locations? Does he always have the places he wants to shoot in mind? There's plenty of negotiation. There are occasions when he has a very specific thing, like the Russian Tea Room or the Staten Island Ferry. When we shot on the Staten Island Ferry, it could not be any other ferry. We changed our schedule several times to make sure we got the exact right ferry. Because, and people might not know this, there are a lot of different boats they use. Only one boat has certain architectural and physical elements, and he just refused to shoot on any other boat, which is not an easy thing to organize.

But a lot of the time he writes it and the production designer, the location manager and I go scope out the locations. We pick them mostly. Generally we'll get down to our collective one or two favorites and we'll show him and he'll say, 'Yes' or 'No, find me something else.'

Have you had any problems with NYers recognizing you guys while filming? Does that ever get in the way? It starts to get in the way. There were a couple things at the beginning of the season. The first day of shooting, I thought, 'Oh my god, if it's going to be like this for the next four months or five months of shooting it's going to be impossible.' People were just yelling. Our first day back there were just a bunch of paparazzi and a bunch of people yelling, 'Louie! Louie! Louie!'

And he's not just a director or a writer; he's an actor. And the other actors in the scene are relying on being able to work with him as that character. So it was very hard for him in the beginning, but then he got used to it. He got back into the groove, back into the habit of just shutting out what's going on out there in the streets. It settled down after a little while.

Have you started talking about the next season yet? Yeah, we've started talking about season five. Preliminary talks. It's hard for Louis to talk about season five while we're still airing season four and there's still lots of conversations going on. I think he'll react in some way to how the audiences have reacted to season four. And that will inform, I would imagine, some creative choices he makes for season five.

Do you think he has been happy with how season four has been received? Yeah...I don't think he's unhappy. I think he's interested in what people are talking about and why. Happy is not really the best adjective to describe it. I think he's curious about what conversations are being had as a result of this funny little show on TV. It's crazy. There are these conversations that are going on in the news about women and sexual assault, and people are tying in the show to that. There's no tie in, really, but people are having conversations about that.

Do you think you guys are on track for 2015? Or is he going to take another break like he did between three and four? There's no break planned at the moment. Could that change? I suppose. But right now we're on track.

The way that your deal with FX works, do you get re-upped every year or do you have a contract for a certain number of seasons? Oh, well, I'll leave that up to your imagination.

Well, I ask mostly because I would love to hear that the show is going to be on the air for many, many more years. One of the amazing things about FX, and one of the unique things about this show, is that we have one person who writes and stars in the show, who directs the show, and who edits the show. So the truth is, I guess, if Louis wanted to say, 'I'm done, I don't have anything else to say,' John [Landgraf, president of FX] would be very disappointed but I think he would accept that.

But I don't think that's the case! I don't think Louis is done saying what he has to say. He's still raising his children. He's still a single man who's out there in the world trying to live a meaningful life and deal with questions we're confronted with everyday. So I think he still has a lot to talk about.

Now, the interesting thing will be to see how does what he has to say match up [with form]. Is it a comedy still? Is it still really funny? Is it more dramatic? Is it more serious? Is it still interesting to other people? Is it interesting to him? Really, we should have not had a break between season three and season four, but Louis just said, 'I can't do this again. I need to go and refill my tank.' And I think it was well worth it because I do think that this season is just tremendous. It has tremendous depth and humor and it's different. But that's what you get when you're working with one artist. If you're going to let them grow and let them change, the show is going to grow and change. So hopefully people will keep responding to it in a positive way and we can keep making it. I fully expect that will happen.

Lastly: have you gone out on the boat with him? I have gone out on the boat. He's an excellent captain. He's very, very, very careful. And he's educated himself a lot about his boat and how boats work and what he needs to do. He has that kind of brain. When he gets interested in stuff he delves quite deeply and thoroughly into whatever it is.