So it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m awake and writing. The culprit of my regularly scheduled insomnia is this little thing we like to call On Demand. No, not the Diamond Vision kind you find on your hotel bill following a week long business trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana; but rather, the Showtime original series Californication.
If you haven’t seen it, the show stars David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a one-hit-wonder writer living in Los Angeles, desperately trying to win back the woman he let get away – played so elegantly by the very beautiful Natascha McElhone. So here is this character, this self-loathing, gratuitous yet talented, apathetic anti-hero who allows himself to maintain some level of decency only for the sake and sanity of his daughter. I’ll give you a second to think why I might like the show.
So after having watched 4 consecutive episodes in the comfort of my bed, I have now trudged myself downstairs so I can capture the minestrone of ideas into this little blog of mine. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. What is it about this show that’s so engaging to me? What makes it so captivating? Then I realized I was just stalling, the way you would stall when you don’t want to tell your kid the dog died. The truth is I want to be Hank Moody.
Okay. Perhaps I don’t want to be exactly like the main character in this show. He’s a chain-smoking, womanizing asshole, and anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t like cigarettes. The reality is I totally admire the unabashed moxie Duchovny’s character portrays. (On a side note, did you know Moxie is considered to be this country’s first mass produced soft drink? Hmmmmmm). Anyway, Hank Moody doesn’t care about anything except his daughter and the woman he can no longer have. Everything else is just details.
I know it sounds weird but there are times when I wish I could so perfectly blend passion and apathy the way Hank does. I wish I could seamlessly spout off witty remarks and perfectly timed phrases without having to type them out three … make that four … times and relying on spell check as a crutch. And I know the reason Hank Moody is so cool and collected and kick-ass is because the writer that created him, and continues to make him exist from episode to episode, did indeed take three, four, or fourteen passes at a script before getting it right.
I guess I am left pondering why we allow ourselves to be drawn so tightly into TV shows. Is it because we relate to the characters and want to identify certain aspects of our personalities? Is it because we long to be like them; strong, funny, witty, attractive, admirable? Or perhaps it’s a little bit of both. Perhaps it’s the escapism that hooks us in. It’s emotional crack after a long day at work. Or maybe it’s just me. Lord knows I’m in the minority when it comes to America’s viewing habits. I hate reality TV – although I make an exception for Rock of Love – and I am not a huge fan of news magazine shows. I have two wonderful and beautiful kids, and a loving and supportive girlfriend. By any standard, my life is great. From what do I need to escape?
I think when it comes to Californication, I love getting lost in the convex that is a character I’d like to become (a somewhat successful writer who’s novel was made into a movie) and a character with whom I can relate (a guy who messed up royally, is hoping to get his life back on track, and who’s responsibility as a dad is the only thing keeping him stable). I was there in 2005, lost, alone and confused, hoping I could find a way to make it to where I am today. And so here I am now, reborn and reinvented, hoping to find the way and the courage to get to where I want to be. At the end of the day, Hank Moody is a made-up character living in a made-up world. My world, on the other hand, is quite real. Now if only all things in life were as easy as On Demand.