Humans, by nature, use television not only as entertainment, but also a form of escapism. It’s easy. Television is everywhere and anywhere we want or need it. Television and the escape it provides is in our living rooms, dorm rooms, smart phones, laptops and even tablets. And the incredible part? We all have our own distinct tastes when it comes to the programming we choose.
Some choose to get lost in the dizzying melodrama of reality television. Others choose to triumph along with the sports heroes we so dearly idolize. And even some choose to snuggle up to the cold and calculated embrace of our 24-hour cable news cycle.
My escape? Californication on Showtime.
I remember being completely bananas for the song “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I saw it for the first time on MTV, back when they actually played music videos (I feel like everyone claims they watched MTV then). Okay, the video was on during the TRL and Carson Daly era which was the beginning of the end for music on MTV. Fast forward 11 years and my connection to the word “Californication” grew deeper as I discovered the dark, twisted and impossible-to-hate character of Hank Moody.
Moody, played by David Duchovny (X-Files), is an author that leaves his natural habitat of New York City for Los Angeles, California. I lack the time or wherewithal to summarize the events that follow but let me give you some keywords: writer’s block, writer’s block, alcohol, drugs, alcohol, sex with a 16-year-old that ends the writer’s block, love, heartbreak, failure and naked women. Whew, this show’s first four seasons follow a story arc that is hard to stop watching.
Hank Moody moved west with who he describes as his “baby momma”, Karen, and that baby, Becca. His relationship with Karen proves less than perfect throughout the whole story arc. Karen keeps foolishly taking Hank back after each painstaking mistake of his, but can you blame her? Duchovny shines as the silver tongue author, Hank Moody. The writing is superb and Duchovny’s personification of this playboy, but severely wounded author gets you out of your seat, simultaneously cheering and condemning Hank Moody.
This is the beauty of Californication. It takes you to the Land of the Angels, where all of the women are young, beautiful and easily seduced by Hank Moody. It features sweeping shots of beautiful homes and landscapes that an Ohioan such as myself cannot not fathom as real. All of the materialistic and physical beauty aside, Californication does one thing very well for me as a viewer. It makes me want to be Hank Moody when I grow up. Not because he drives a bad-ass black Porsche or because he has sex with women so beautiful it boggles the mind. No, I want to be Hank Moody when I grow up because of the intellectual prowess that he seemingly displays all the time. Hank fires off lines seeped in passive aggressiveness and sharp wit without any effort at all. Hank’s weapons are not guns or knives, but rather his brain and his tongue. And he really does use these two tools to get himself in, and out of, trouble several times.
This season of Californication, its fifth since debuting in 2007, features a departure from the normal. Karen, Hank’s true love throughout the whole series, is married to the author and her former professor, Richard Bates. Bates is an interesting character that has a reaction to alcohol that involves showing off his “mangina” in public. (Sounds worse than it is). Becca has grown from the small and meek child from season one to a 19-year-old college student. And, Hank Moody has relocated back to the city he loves, New York City.
A business trip brings Hank back to California. On this trip, Hank’s writing is requested by a rapper-businessman by the name of Samurai Apocalypse. Samurai is played by none other than hip-hop master, RZA, the head of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan. RZA plays the ghetto hardened hip-hop mogul very well and Hank begins to develop a partnership and friendship with the man known as Samurai Apocalypse.
This season, on episode 8 so far, features a very different approach from Hank Moody. In the past, Hank would have good intentions, but when it came down to actually doing the right thing, he usually veered off that path pretty sharply. This time around, however, Hank is actually acting on his good intentions. He is working to protect the feelings of the people he loves and cares for while still partaking in the smart ass debauchery I came to love and expect from Hank Moody.
Season five has just begun to build on its story arc so there is still time to catch up. Californication airs every Sunday on Showtime at 10:30 p.m. Previous seasons are available in boxed sets or on iTunes.