Posts Tagged ‘new Rome’

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I indulge some guilty pleasures, stuff from Showtime and HBO, as many do.  It’s usually more engrossing than the network TV universe, with naked people and bad behaviors.  I’ve gone in for the L-Word, The Tudors, Weeds and recently gave a shot to Californication, starring David Duchovny and Natascha McElhone.

This hyper-real often silly show spouts dialogue that is so over the top and accelerated that no one really talks that way.  Stuffed with sarcasm, allusions, metaphors and anger, the show combines the ridiculous with a deeply flawed and dramatic main character arc.   People like watching others self-destruct, and David Duchovny makes a sport of it.

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I had to keep watching because Hank Moody’s family struck a relevant chord with my own experiences.  Not the steady stream of sex and alcohol, unfortunately, but the female members of his on-screen family unit.  Moody’s situation is one of an exceptional and often estranged middle-aged father trying to keep his family together as their teenaged daughter matures and drifts away.  His relationship with his wife Karen is epically strained, and no woman in her right mind would ever return to Moody.

That’s one of the weaknesses of the show.  Karen is pulled around like a puppet, constantly.  She lacks the agency needed for this to be taken seriously.  They try to put Karen in the driver’s seat, but it’s always a response to Moody’s crass infidelities.  Duchovny’s voodoo hold over womankind is taken to laughable extremes.  He’s a philanderer, an arrogant loudmouth and a drunk.  His excesses push farther than viewers might expect.

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I think Californication is a bell-wether of our nihilistic, self-absorbed age.  As in Wolf of Wall Street it’s our culture, and it’s real enough.  We are the new Romans drowning mindlessly in our excess and depravity.  There isn’t much to redeem these characters.  Human, yes.  Heroes?  Not on your life.