The final season of Showtime’s Californication begins tonight.
I gave it a shot four years ago and was hooked from the first episode on. The show follows Hank Moody (played by David Duchovny; probably my favorite character in the history of television), an alcoholic writer who resides in California (surprise?) and suffers from writer’s block. His drinking and womanizing fuel him. He goes through women like disposable t-shirts while still in love with the woman he perceives to be the love of his life (played by Natasha McElhone) despite her shunning of Hank by getting involved in relationships with dime a dozen bumrat schmucks.
The show’s other main characters are Moody’s best friend and agent, Charlie Runkle (played by Evan Handler), and Charlie’s wife, Marcy (played by Pamela Adlon). Recurring themes are sex, drugs and rock and roll, all of which are featured regularly.
It was a cleverly written show, but the downfall over the last several seasons is the writers of the show’s mistakes of having Hank going in different directions not apropos to the character’s disposition. What made Californication so compelling, particularly in its fantastic first two seasons, was how the writers allowed Hank to be… Hank. He deals with a constant quagmire of inner-adversity fueled by his own personal demons, shenanigans and from the zany sideshow sumbitches he encounters.
The show is laced with rock culture references. It frequently alludes to Warren Zevon and featured Henry Rollins in a guest appearance; some episode titles, such as “Filthy Lucre” and “Turn The Page”, allude to album and song names (Sex Pistols’ “Filthy Lucre Live” and Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”, respectively). The name of the movie made out of Hank’s “God Hates Us All” novel, “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is named after the song with the same name by the rock band Queen on their album, “The Game”. There’s also a shithorde of songs by The Doors. In addition, his lawyer in season 4’s name is Abby Rhodes. His first three novels, “South of Heaven”, “Seasons in the Abyss” and “God Hates Us All,” are all named after Slayer albums.
Another thing I instantly appreciated about Californication is the MANY references/homages to Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski (more-so Bukowski, but plenty of subtle references to Thompson, particularly his 1972 classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”), two of my all-time favorite writers. In one of the seasons, one of the characters notes that he behaves like a “poor man’s Bukowski”. Similarly, in a flashback scene to the night they met, the woman he’d think of as the love of his life calls him Bukowski.
It’s time to end Californication. It’s actually been time to end it after the last several mediocre seasons that subsisted on a few great episodes. I’ll miss the character Hank Moody (who won’t?) and the onscreen chemistry with Charlie Runkle. It had a good run, but nothing lasts forever, maddaaafuckaaaa.