Some may say the humor in Californication is crass, low brow, raunchy, and dirty. To those people, I say you’re missing the point. Sure, it’s a sex comedy, similar to HBO’s Dream On that aired in the 90s, but with a lot more unsavory scenes when it comes to sex. However, Californication is a show deeply rooted in romanticism—exhibited in the theme of unrequited love and the setting of Los Angeles.
As a writer, I’m envious of Hank Moody to an extent. Though he finds himself in a high order of drama, I can respect the love he harbors for Karen, his baby momma and muse. He’s the tortured artist who got lucky and found his other half; then, riding that wave of love was incredibly prolific, and when it ended he couldn’t write. It’s a hell of a thing when writer’s block comes on and if it’s attributed to loss or heartbreak, it’s even worse. And that’s essentially the dilemma of Hank; a man trying to find his way after the ‘end of everything’. He delves into sex, alcohol and drugs, and rock n’ roll; and though I don’t condone his methods of self medication, as a writer I can understand them. When you find your other half, that perfect someone and things just click, you can’t imagine losing it. When it’s gone, you numb the pain in whatever way you can.
Hank is a tragic romantic looking to get back what he lost and punishing himself in the process. Los Angeles provides the perfect landscape for it—a city of glitz and under the surface, horrifically rotten. I believe it was LA historian, Mike Davis, who said “Los Angeles is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it”. There have been times in my life where I could definitely relate. But as a writer and human being, you can’t wallow forever. You have to rise out of the murk, which Hank never really does in the series—kind of my major gripe with the writing. And though the series has various short-comings, I think it delivers as a strong depiction of what it’s like to be a hopeless romantic in a city where romance may very well be dead. In the end, we all want a Karen–a muse, a lover, a savior–our other half.
Good luck out there! As Hank would say, “It’s a big bad world.”