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October 8, 2015

'Californication' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 7th 2011 5:45AM
'Californication' S04/E09['Californication' - 'Another Perfect Day']

Hank Moody lives a simple life. Sleep, screw, smoke, write, argue, wear the same clothes, repeat. Do you notice something missing from that day-to-day routine, besides eating and pooping (he's like Jack Bauer with a hangover)?

I don't see "love somebody other than himself" or "stop acting like a 16-year-old after his first beer and hand-job" on the list. Maybe you see other omissions, and I'm sure those omissions would help make Hank's life more easy than simple. As it stands, his simple life is hard, but a few more adjustments in attitude and responsibility could help make his simple life a lot easier.

Hank's lifestyle, as oddly extravagant as it seems, cannot sustain itself for long stretches of time. Sure, it's nice to be the dastardly lothario, but that doesn't always put a roof over your head, food on your table, or dignity in your soul.

'Californication' is at a crossroads right about now, and the story has sort of backed itself into a corner. The show thrives when Hank is at his worst, drinking in women and sleeping with bottles after exchanging blows with some dude because he's wearing a sweater vest. That's what the show has conditioned viewers to want, and therefore deviations from that formula are often a let down.

The story itself was pushing Hank away from those things that make him fake Charlie Sheen, and toward the happy little sitcom family, neatly solving its problems in a half hour with a catchphrase and a laugh track to let us all know everything's going to be all right. As watchable as that might be, it's not what we signed up for.

Everyone at Showtime seemed to be acknowledging this fact with this episode, as it played out as close to and episode of 'According to Jim' as humanly possible without having Courtney Thorne-Smith as a guest star. Hank even alluded to it when he said, "The Cosbys, the Huxtables, the Mansons, they got nothing on us."

It actually made this episode tough to watch. Hank, evicted from his hotel, was reduced to cheesy lines of Dad-dom in between sappy proclamations of love to Karen and trying to be cute and loveable enough to get back in their good graces no matter how self-effacing.

This may have been the first episode of the show in which Hank did not have a drink, violate a woman, or have to ice down his nuts after a ruckus. Sitcom dads don't engage in such behavior, and rightfully so. No one wants to see a drunk Ray Barone in a fist-fight with a hooker over a bill discrepancy. Actually, I totally want to see that, but you get my point.

With Hank getting closer to being completely neutered, the show shifted all its sexual depravity over to Charlie and his newly liberated libido. Picking up the sexual slack created by Hank might be too much for one Runkle to handle though. Peggy was doing her part to keep everything running smoothly, pretending to be Charlie's sister while they boned. She really committed to the role, creating a whole back story and giving Charlie the "Do whatever you want to me" card he always wanted.

This sexual shift also has a profound impact on the show. When Hank is laying pipe there's a psychology, a weight, a significance to every encounter that informs not only who he is, but how he sees the world. With Charlie at the sexual helm, it's comic relief. It's "what kind of crazy bedroom antics can we get away with this week?" Both entertaining options, but inherently different television shows.

We were given a glimpse into the possible future of 'Californication,' and I'm still trying to decide whether or not I liked what I saw. The family breakfast turned into the family meeting, turned into the family driving lesson, turned into the family giggling, turned into the family driving down the 101 montage, turned into the family tragedy narrowly averted, and ended with the family reflection on such an eventful day.

The pending rape trial may have caused a lot of the last-minute family clamoring for things it knew it was supposed to share but never really did in the first place. Fear and desperation can do that to you. They were searching for any kind of connection to cling to in the face of what could either save or ruin their lives together.

If nothing else, Hank began to take an active role in assuming responsibility for their current plight. How much of his "I take a breath, I make a mistake" and "I'm currently accepting blame for everything," are just shameless pleas for sympathy, remains to be seen. A man will say a lot of things out of character when his family and statutory rape verdict are on the line.

'Californication' airs Sundays, 9PM ET on Showtime.

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he's the master of disaster. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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That was one of the quickest "training montages" ever. From can't start to speeding down the highway to driving by herself. In a stick-shift. Please.

March 07 2011 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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