I’m talking about the show, not the Chili Peppers album. Great album, though.
I’ve been watching Showtime’s David Duchovny glam project since its inception, and from the beginning, I’ve loved it. Now, in its third season, I have to say it’s beginning to lose me. Much of what I loved about the show in its first and second seasons has been lost. For example, the show continually forgets that Hank Moody is supposed to be a writer. We never, ever see him writing now—there is zero effort—whereas in the first season, there was an interesting subplot involving a memoir Hank wrote (which was stolen by Karen’s new stepdaughter in an appalling move that I never understood why Hank allowed) and in the second, a writing-oriented subplot about Hank penning a biography of a record exec with whom he became close.
I know, many might argue that of course Hank’s not writing, and that’s the whole point, that we as the audience are meant to be frustrated with this. But I don’t buy it. How can we have any respect for Hank as a character if he’s not producing anything? Also, simply on a personal level, I liked the idea of the main character of a television show being a writer. But now, he’s not writing. He’s just a fucker. Literally.
Meanwhile, the more major problem: sexually, the show is getting ridiculous. It’s not just that Hank can get every woman he wants with zero effort. That I can get on board with. It’s the fact that the women he’s bedding are so incredibly spineless. They’ll do anything for him. If that wasn’t obvious enough from the fact that Hank breaks up with all three and they crawl back anyway, it becomes really blatant in “The Apartment,” the episode in which all his women randomly show up—quite desperately—to “surprise” him and try to win him back.
And to have Charlie’s wife have loud, screaming sex with Rick Springfield wasn’t funny, just sad. You see poor Charlie, heartbroken, listening to it—how can we be expected to laugh?
Speaking of Rick Springfield, that entire plot line is more aggravating than funny. He seems out of place on the show, like a celebrity just tossed in for name recognition. Still, the most absurd character of all is Sue Collini. What Kathleen Turner is doing on this show playing a sex-crazed, dominating talent agent is anyone’s guess. She’s a strong addition to anything, normally, but in Californication she just grosses me out. The slightly sickening, graphic sexual comments and innuendos she makes to Charlie are less than palatable.
By the way, the girl who plays Hank’s daughter kind of sucks. For the best evidence (other than every time she speaks in that barely audible, whiny tone) look to the very first episode of the season (or it may have been the second or third, actually) at the very end when she and Hank have an argument. He throws her cell phone at the wall and she says, “I fuckin haaaate youuu!” Seriously bad little actress, but of course they can’t just switch her out at this point, a la The OC‘s second season switch of the actor playing Ryan Atwood’s brother.
Of course, everything being said, audiences love all of this. The sexual dalliances, the laziness, the ridiculous characters, crude dialogue, and over-the-top sex scenes, these all have their flaws but they also make the show the raunchy pleasure that it is. So, it’s a toss-up.
[UPDATE, 11/28/09] I should also add, in fairness, that there are some subplots and additions I’ve loved. Peter Gallagher is a hilarious addition to the cast, and I appreciated in the most recent episode when Charlie showed that he had the balls to say ‘enough is enough’ and ditch Springfield as a client. Great moment when he tore apart the bag of coke. I also like Diane Farr, who I remembered as one of Franco’s longer relationships in Rescue Me. The show is not at all a disaster, so I hope I didn’t make it seem that way. It’s still a show that I look forward to watching. I just think this has been the weakest season, so far, for a number of new additions and plot lines that are more upsetting than funny.