Premise: A novelist navigates the cutthroat business waters of Hollywood and perpetually finds himself in hot water as a result of his rampant libido, to the chagrin of his daughter and longtime girlfriend. Hilarity ensues.
David Duchovny's Hank Moody character started off as a seemingly complex, overly horny, charming scamp who never seemed to be without a sharp-witted comeback when Californication debuted in the summer of 2007. Fast-forward to five seasons and 60 episodes into the half hour show's run and Hank has shown little to no character growth, with most of those aforementioned qualities now rendering him an unbearable douchebag. The show's incessant recycling of storylines where Hank sleeps with an endless parade of beautiful woman who throw themselves at him, which nearly always leads to some sort of trouble, is beyond played out. The main sources of disapproval concerning Hank's dalliances are his on/off girlfriend, Karen, (played by Natasha McElhone) and precocious daughter, Becca (played by Madeleine Martin). Karen's overly gracious tolerance level for Hank's shenanigans, even though she does eventually reach a breaking point, make it difficult to have any respect for her and Becca, well, her fragile, eggheaded character remained cloying from the first episode. The oft-repeated instances of Becca telling her dad how disappointed she was in him after his latest screw up came to be as predictable as the show's gratuitous use of nudity .
Californication is littered with "jump the shark" moments throughout its history that would go a long way to steering me away from the show, like the storyline/plot point that involved Becca learning the guitar, becoming a busker at Venice Beach, and eventually starting a horrible band fronted by Zoe Kravitz (Lenny's daughter). The scene where their band hilariously butchers Alice In Chains' "Would?" during their first gig as an opener for Black Label Society at L.A.'s Whiskey A Go Go (yeah, like that could happen), or other stories involving characters played by an out-of-his-element Rob Lowe, Wu-Tang Clan's RZA as an off-his-rocker rap mogul, Rick Springfield, and Callum Keith Rennie also point to this show's overreaching desperation to be edgy and hip, right down to the ridiculous leather wrist bands that middle-aged Hank wears.
The show's last couple of bright spots heading into the most recent season were Evan Handler and Pamela Adlon as Charlie and Marcy Runkle, but even they finally wore out their welcome. Both characters are symbolic of the shock tactic, gutter sensibility that Californication wallows in, whether it's the copious amounts of depraved sex or profanity overkill. As I've stated more than once on this blog, I am far from a being prude, but Californication's generally sleaze-heavy tone, coupled with its other considerable flaws, translates into a show that's run its course for me.