Q: What, in your opinion, is the one thing television lacks today?
A: David Duchovny’s bare butt.
If you agree with the above, then this is your lucky day: starting this month, every Monday at 10.30 EST, Showtime’s Californication is all about Duchovny’s naked ass, both literally and figuratively. If, however, you’re one of those who sneer at and/or appalled about the kind of the no-holds-barred sex and nudity that infested shows like HBO’s Rome or FX’s Nip/Tuck, then you can safely cross this off your TiVo list.
On the other hand, if you’re like me and just like to watch good television even if you have to wade through a bit of boobage to get to it, then you might want to give this a shot.
Californication (a title I don’t know whether to hate or love although I give it points for inspiring this list) is the story of Hank, a self-described “one hit wonder” of the publishing world who’s on the spiral down, down, down as he battles (and mostly loses to) a humongous writer’s block. The show sticks grimly by his side, even into the alternate realm of dreams, as he tries to screw his way past it.
I’d like to digress here for a second and demand a full refund from my university: at the extortionate rates they charged for my mostly useless education, was it too much to ask that they’d at least have the decency to tell us that coitus is the way to get over writer’s block? Thieves!
Anyway… so, Hank has writer’s block and he has an active sex life. A very active sex life. In fact, this series could be called The Travails of Hank the Human Douchebag is how active his sex life is. Unfortunately for Hank, the ability to pull the skanks of this world with monotonous regularity isn’t the one gift he wishes his fairy godmother had given him for a christening gift. I mean, it passes the time and everything but he’s now a little bored with it all and what he really wants is his family back.
As said family comprises of Natasha McElhone (Solaris, The Truman Show) and the best tweenie quasi-Goth kid (the super talented Madeleine Martin) I’ve seen in ages, I don’t blame him. As the pilot very cleverly ended without actually mentioning McElhone’s character’s name (please, writers of Californication, don’t get any Rebecca-esque ideas) I will now refer to McElhone as “Hank’s Wife” for the purposes of this post. Of course, as it turns out that she was never actually married to him (he forgot to ask) and she’s about to marry someone else (called Bill, who Hank thinks is an asshole and so will probably turn out to be Prince Charming), the term “Wife” is a bit of a misnomer but I’ll let it stand in lieu of the more correct but sadly longer “Hank’s Wife that Never Was”.
Where was I?
Right, so Hank’s Wife was also his muse (kinda careless of him not to ask his muse to marry him, wasn’t it? Nice going, Hank!) as well as his One True Love and the mother of his child and … oh, I don’t know, generally his whole life until he fucked it up in some way that I’m sure we’re going to find out. Cut a long story short, he wants her back because nothing really works without her and he thinks it’s just a matter of proposing, which obviously is not the case.
‘Obviously’ because if that was the case then this would be one hell of a short series wouldn’t it? That Hank’s a silly fucker, he is.
No, really – he’s a silly fucker coz he went and fucked Bill’s 16 year old daughter. Which Bill? Think for a second, it’ll come to you. Ah, yes, that Bill. Of course, he didn’t know she was 16 but something tells me that’s not going to be much of an excuse further along the show.
The 16 year old in question by the way is played Madeline Zima who, once upon a time, portrayed that precocious, fresh faced innocent young Grace Sheffield on The Nanny. Eeeewwww! I saw little Gracie’s boobs! I need to go take a shower. Bleurgh!
However, I will allow that Zima is pretty darn good here and no, you perverts, I’m not talking about her lady bits. And in a way, I’m glad I know about the Nanny connection because now I’m seriously rooting for Bill to kick Hank’s worthless ass… even if she looks waaaay older than 16. In a good way. Sigh, kids these days.
Of course, when push comes to shove, I’m betting that I’ll end up on Hank’s side because what you have here in Californication is yet another (well made, so far) take on that classic TV character: The Likeable Asshole.
You know The Likeable Asshole: he’s all over TV. A wide sample selection – George Clooney in ER, James Gandolfini in The Sopranos, Hugh Laurie in House, etc. Duchovny’s Hank falls into that category, just with a lot more sex in it. And for those of you thinking Julian McMahon in Nip/Tuck, let me just tell you that Hank is a hitter in a completely different ballgame. Although it’d be absolutely beyond awesome if we had a little Nip/Tuck moment down the line in which, say, Hank gets over his block, writes his second novel and then has to sleep with some old lady to get it published.
I’m just saying. No need to credit me or anything if you’re reading this, writers of Californication. Let the plotline be my reward.
Below is a little preview with all the naughty bits edited out. Sorry.
Oh, and Natasha McElhone? Her character’s name is Karen. It says so on the website.