So, back when this was all new and fresh, I was absolutely maniac about it.
Even dreamed of moving to LA just to experience the non-stop sex and discovery with very young, beautiful and wiling ladies.Well.. Now I'm closer to 40 and much more knowledgeable of life, in general. For the life of me I can't understand what I liked about it and why. It was rather interesting in the first and maybe second season, about how one can re-trace his shattered life and can re-make his broken family. And even the "seduction" parts were not weird and porno-movie-speed inspired. But after that, it just became one lame excuse for nudity. In fact, it's the very prototype of how you can prolong a show's life using excessive nudity. And while in the first seasons the writing was witty and funny and entertaining, it just got stupid afterwards and if that was the point.. whoever tried to make it was stupid.
Case in point, one of the very last scenes, in an airplane, where Hank declares his love to Karen, some random young girl offers herself up if Karen does not respond in kind. It's porn-stupid, without the nudity. But stupid and unrealistic. And misogynistic, come to think.I have no idea if I rate it back then, but in this day and age, I'll give it 6 for the excellent cast, first two seasons, cinematography and general quality in making it. Too bad it lasted this long.
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I get the premise of this show and was hooked for the first two seasons. After that I realized the over-arching story never changed. Frank Moody is a selfish human being who can't ever say no to any of his indulgences, even when he knows it's going to hurt his daughter or friends. While each season had some unique themes and story development the primary recipe remained the same: A woman or drug (or both) tempts him, he can't say no, close friend or family gets hurt, and then they forgive him. Rinse and repeat. It got to the point that I started loathing the protagonist for his repeated and wanton transgressions. I also stopped feeling any sympathy for his friends and family after they let him burn them or the 29th time. At some point you're the one to blame for allowing him to walk all over you. By the final season I was hoping all the characters' karma would dump back them in a fitting ending. I hoped Frank Moody was killed in a fiery car accident (SPOILER ALERT: he doesn't), his agent would get HIV, and his family would all live meaningless, empty lives, befitting their meaningless, empty characters. Also the sheer volume of sex he and his agent has is ludicrous. Every woman they meet, regardless of circumstance, throws themselves at them (SPOILER ALERT: Even underage girls). It's like a 14 year boy's fever dream.
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If you have either live the edge, known those who did or wished you could, this series will provide a lot of entertainment mileage. Each episode contains at least one or two great laugh out loud moments. The shock and awe remain strong for the first four seasons despite the urge to fast forward past almost any scene featuring the daughter Becca. The character and actress are both out of place in this series. The good news is that Californication can now be streamed so you can fast forward past the parts that kill the momentum. The vast majority of the scenes are delightfully bizarre and shocking for those in the audience that are overstimulated thereby requiring more excitement to have a thrill or a laugh. The small roles for well known celebs are a wonderful bonus. There is also a long lasting undercurrent of real character development that may seem overshadowed by the roller coaster ride. All in all, I enjoyed most of the series, but I only began watching after being told that I resemble the main character Hank Moody. After watching, I am partially flattered, a little embarrassed and strangely encouraged upon realizing that I share a few too many character flaws / trait with Hank. Party on!
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Hank Moody (David Duchovny) is a womanizing, hedonistic, self-loathing writer struggling to write in L.A. His baby mamma Karen (Natascha McElhone) is the love of his life but he could never take the big step to marry her. He's furious that she and their daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin) have moved in with her fiancé Bill. Hank sleeps with a young woman who punches him during sex. He's shocked to find out that she's actually Bill's 16 year old, underage daughter Mia (Madeline Zima). On top of that, she starts using his unpublished works and steals his latest novella. Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) is his idiot agent and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) is Charlie's on-again-off-again loud-mouth wife.The first season is fantastic. The oversexed Hank Moody is a compelling destructive character. F*king & Punching is a hell of a way to start a TV show. The show does deteriorate after a 9/10 first season. The first mistake is probably Karen walking out on Bill. Karen's marriage would have created another level to Hank's self-destruction. It would have also kept Mia in the show a lot longer. The end of season 3 brings another opportunity with Mia bringing the sleazy manager. Character actor James Frain is amazing and he could drive a whole season simply by himself. In the end, the show opted for more raunchy slapstick comedy and some sitcom writing rather than going darker.