Moody’s just the way I like him…
Gittering about having the hots for Hank Moody, the protagonist of Californication.
Californication | Official Trailer (Season 1) | David Duchovny SHOWTIME Series, SHOWTIME and photos © Showtime
Last year, I told you all about my soft spot for J.R. Ewing from TVs Dallas (1978-91). This year the object of my affection is Hank Moody. Hank Moody is the lead character of Californication (2007-14), an American adult drama-comedy series (which I’ve seen in its entirety, so there may be a few wee spoilers in this post).
This character when watching him in Californication‘s first episode comes over initially as a bit of a cad and a bounder, and certainly not the type of man your mother would approve of. But as we learn more about him, over time, a different man is revealed. Hank is played with great comic panache by David Duchovny throughout the show’s run.
Also throughout the series, Duchovny is supported fantastically with some great on-screen rapport and chemistry from a supporting cast primarily led by Natascha McElhone, Pamela Adlon and Evan Handler. There are also a few famous TV, music and film names to be spotted in the cast including Kathleen Turner, Rob Lowe, Amber Heard and Rick Springfield. Numerous cameos add to the fun.
In episode 1, we learn 40 years old plus, Hank was a successful writer, however, now has writer’s block and a drinking problem. Later, we learn he also occasionally takes unprescribed drugs. Hank’s writer’s block developed after the content of his best-selling and much-praised book God Hates Us All, was diluted and changed for the worse. As to his dismay, it’s been turned into an awful romantic comedy called A Crazy Little Thing Called Love starring Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And this is a film he hates with a passion.
Hank’s also a bit of a babe magnet – cue many scenes of a sexual nature (believe me you will know Duchovny’s arse intimately by the end of this entire series, and there is more “tits and ass” than Outlander (2014-)) – but still holding a torch for his daughter’s mother, Karen (McElhone). Between them, they have a precocious 12-year-old daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin).
In this first episode, Karen tells Hank she’s getting married, to Bill. Bill is the man she left Hank for leading to their break-up. However, after finding out that Karen has moved on, Hank beds Mia, a pretty young thing he meets and flirts with at a book shop. Later in the episode, Hank’s shocked and stunned to remeet her as Karen, introduces Mia to him as her 16-year-old future stepdaughter and a good friend of his daughter. This prompted him to write. One word. Fuck.
So what is lovable about this man? Firstly he’s sexy in a kinda Daryl Van Horne sort of way. He reminds me of Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) as both are charming, confident and charismatic. I know his sexiness is not because he’s played by David Duchovny – as I’ve never found him attractive – so perhaps it’s the way he plays him. Here, Duchovny plays him with great relish, with a wee mischievous twinkle in his eye and with obvious joy in playing this character.
Duchovny delivers the dialogue so naturally, that it could almost be you are watching a fly on the wall documentary. Combine this personality with Hank’s more casual haircut and dress – compared with the shorter hair-cut suited Mulder, from The X Files (1993-) – and Hank just looks roguishly fun. A bit like Harrison Ford as Hans Solo in the Star Wars VII The Force Awakens (2015), but younger.
During the show’s run. Hank hooks up and beds with a large number of ladies. So expect a lot of explicit sex acts and love-making scenes from the get-go. The show opens in one of Hank’s dreams where he confesses to a nun about his writer’s block and she offers and provides a sexual act to assist him. Surprisingly only a few of his ladies actually know each other, although at times his love life is kind of edging on the precarious.
He’s slept with the wife of the director of that rom-com movie he hates. He sleeps with a mother and daughter (not at the same time). Or he dates three women at the same time, with one scene where he is seen talking to all three, with the women not knowing of the other two. And yet through all his dalliances, you feel you want to support him when his character is interrupted by others during an intimate moment or his concurrent relationships are discovered.
But it’s his love for the main lady in his life that you – along with some of his ladies – almost envy. Karen is a woman for whom Hank will drop anything and anyone (even a long-term girlfriend). Karen is his daughter’s mother and the love of his life. Karen got pregnant with Becca soon after they got together and not marrying her is his biggest regret.
Even when Hank and Karen aren’t together as a couple, they have a kinda flirty relationship and banter. Despite his promiscuous life, Hank still gets jealous of her new loves. They reunite as parents to support their daughter when she needs them. Their chemistry is always evident in their scenes together be it at a parent-teacher meeting or even when at a dinner party accompanied by different dates.
Like Ross and Rachel in Friends (1994-2004) they are more than often drawn together as a couple, in spite of everything that happens to them. I suspect that this would happen even if they had no daughter. The flashbacks of his time with Karen when Becca is younger show the pair madly in love in some touching scenes.
These romantic looks between them are also found in future episodes, during their on/off relationship. In spite of Hank’s many relationships at the beginning of the series, she sees him as a lovable rogue. But when the relationships are with those she knows a close friend or family member she is understandably upset. Despite this, there are a number of missed opportunities for them to get together long-term.
An attribute I love in Hank is that he is a doting dad to Becca, and it was noted it was this father-daughter relationship that attracted Duchovny to this role. As she is a mere pre-teen at the beginning of the show, we see Becca grow up into a young lady during the show. And in a lovely touch, her casting doesn’t change. Hank does try to stop his daughter from making the same mistakes as he has. He is protective of her through some bad relationships with boys. He looks out for Becca all the time. Hank hopes to help her through her at times painful adolescence.
Although Becca, however, is often more mature and adult than Hank. He also respects her more wise advice, especially regarding his relationship with her mother. He tries to give her good advice in return on men, love and life. But he often learns – to his dismay – that she’s learnt her ways through him. He also hopes to support her in her teenage years and there is a sweet but fun scene when he learns she has just started her monthly period. When Hank tries his best to help her. Although not the perfect example of being a father, he does try.
Another of Hank’s endearing qualities is his firm, unwavering friendship with his best friend and agent Charlie Runkle (Handler). Their relationship is one of the most well-written bromances made for television. Charlie is married to Marcy (Adlon) at the beginning of the series, yet they have their ups and downs throughout the show. And through their troubles, Hank loyally stays friends with them both, not taking sides.
Charlie is often seen as Hank’s wingman and confidante. The pair manage to get in a few scrapes together and some shared sexual encounters – such as an orgy – due to their weaknesses for the fairer sex. Charlie also carries out sexual acts on himself, often getting caught but often with comic consequences. Hank is always there for his friend (and vice versa) and they have an unspoken rule where do not hit on each other’s top girls, Marcy and Karen. In the scenes with these four main characters, all close friends are in turns touching, funny and sad.
However, there is a lovely scene in a later featuring all of them in a happy time for them all. Hank is also at his most lovable in his almost big brother and playful relationship with Charlie’s wife, Marcy Runkle, Charlie’s wife. He gives endearing height-related nicknames for this wee lady played wonderfully by 5ft Pamela Adlon. Which my Darlin Husband found funny as I share the same height as her, with some of Marcy’s scenes reflecting this. Marcy’s role, wit and banter deserve a post of her own.
Hank also has a lovely way with words, often with an appropriate wee quip for every occasion. Examples include on an occasion when he is dressed in a suit he says he looks like “a fucking FBI agent” with a wee nod to the X Files. There are other pop culture references including nods to the film Secretary (2002) and Star Wars in this series, often described as a version of Sex in the City (1998-2004) for men.
But I’d argue having recently seen this series once, that Californication has more fun and engaging characters and is better written. And much more fun. Hank also uses more direct and indirect sexual comments such as “I probably won’t go down in history, but I will go down on your sister” and “Are you sexually harassing me right now? Because if you are, I think I’m gonna have to report you. For giving me a serious boner.”
So what more can I tell you about Hank, he’s a good friend and dad, and when he’s with Karen he’s at his happiest and most loved up. His life shown over the 7 seasons show the repercussions of his actions in life events often lead to his hopes going awry or off track. Hank never gives up on his hopes, he is a very determined and honest man trying to get his life, career and relationship with Karen and his daughter on track despite his troubles.
The show beginning with the song lyrics “You can’t always get what you want.” aptly sums up the plummeting despair of his life spiralling out of control that Hank feels in the first episode. By the end of the entire series, with Hank in a better place, he makes a heartfelt speech to Karen telling her how he feels that in this final act of determination to win this lady’s heart and his family, “But if you try sometimes well you might find. You get what you need”.
The Reel Infatuation Blogathon, 2017, No 31
This was reviewed as part of the Reel Infatuation 2017 Blogathon run by Silver Screenings and Font and Frock. Other reviews with this cast include Grease 2 with Pamela Adlon. Rob Lowe is also reviewed in About Last Night and in those many Andrew McCarthy film reviews with St Elmo’s Fire and Class. Kathleen Turner features in my Romancing the Stone, Peggy Sue Got Married and Prizzi’s Honor reviews. David Duchovny stars in The X Files and Chaplin.