FX, famous for giving creative freedom to its shows, asked Louis C.K. to make changes to an episode of "Louie" called "God" to avoid offending Catholics.
Network president John Landgraf talked about the decision during a Television Critics Association panel on Saturday. He is known for letting his shows push boundaries: The last season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," for example, featured a mock funeral for a baby.
C.K. said he was grateful for the suggestion. He said he has worked on television long enough to know where the line is, but not always.
"I'm like a dog with a shock collar who you can take off the collar after a while. I know where the fence is," he said.
Neither C.K. not Landgraf described exactly what was changed in the 2010 episode. Landgraf said it involved "Catholic iconography" and that the network asked for the changes to be "a bit senstitive."
The version of the episode that ultimately aired still had the potential to offend — and plenty of Catholic iconography.
It features a man in a bathroom inserting his penis in a glory hole called "Heaven," and expressing faith that nothing bad will come of it. In another segment, Louie says during a standup set that God is "an asshole" and compares him to "a shitty girlfriend" who constantly wants you to prove your love.
But the most striking scenes occur in flashback. A nun, trying to explain to Louie and his Catholic school classmates how much Jesus suffered, brings in a doctor to conduct a "theoretical autopsy" on Jesus. He delivers a long, joke-free description of how Jesus was tortured and died.
At one point the doctor orders Louie to drive a nail into a classmate's wrist. Louie is so traumatized that he later knocks down a crucufix, pulls the nails from Jesus' statue, and frees him.
The episode, the eleventh to air in the comedy series' first season, makes few attempts to be funny.
Landgraf has asked for a change before to avoid offending Catholics. In the first season of "Always Sunny," he asked creator Rob McElhenney to change a child molester priest into a child molester gym teacher. McElhenney agreed.