Critical Review 1: Californication, Connor McQuarrie

Californication is an American comedy-drama television series. The show follows around Hank Moody, a novelist from New York who recently moved out to California. He is having a hard time writing again. Hank’s drinking, womanizing, and drug-abuse complicates his relationships with his longtime lover, Karen and their daughter, Becca. Hank constantly deals with the consequences of his inability to say no to the temptations of women around him while trying to show his family that he can be a responsible and  caring father to Becca as well as a reliable partner for Karen.

Karen has a planned marriage to Bill, a Los Angeles publisher. Hank spends most of his time drinking instead of writing. One day, Hank picks up a younger girl in a bookstore. After they have sex, he discovers that she is Bill’s sixteen year old daughter, Mia. She uses the threat of an illegal sex charge to extort stories from him that she passes off as her own for her high school creative writing class. The death of Hank’s father sends him on a alcohol binge that leads to a sexual encounter with Karen. After the funeral, Hank stays in New York to finish his new novel. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he believes the original copy was stolen when he was carjacked, but Mia had previously stolen the original copy as she tries to get it published. On Karen and Bill’s wedding day, Hank chooses to accept the situation. As Hank and Becca leave the reception, Karen hops in their car to live her life with them instead of Bill.

The show has an array of aesthetically pleasing qualities. I feel as if the people behind the show definitely want to give off a west coast vibe. The people with money who live these crazy LA lifestyles that go to the wildest parties and have the craziest experiences. Hank Moody exemplifies the man whore lifestyle, he gets himself in situations that would completely go against how Karen and Becca want him to act. This causes a lot of family conflict which I was able to relate to in my own way so that was something that reeled me and made want to watch more. The music is pretty catchy, they have a theme song that plays at the beginning of every episode. It dives into an LA montage of people and parties which plays into the cool California vibe. The dialogue is incredibly hilarious to me. The content in the conversations is incredibly sexual and raunchy. Hank is obviously the ring leader of this dirty dialogue, constantly setting people straight in certain social situations.

Karen knows that Hank sleeps around all the time, but the one thing that she hasn’t found out yet is that Hank had a sexual encounter with Mia. Hank and Karen have their ups and downs, the downs happen when Hank sleeps with all of Los Angeles and then gets caught red handed. They fight and argue over what is best for them and Becca all the time. There is a constant battle over this since Hank always messes up and Karen always takes him back because she loves him. The episode I reviewed happened to be the finale of season three. Everything seems to be going good with Hank and Karen, they are planning to move back to New York as a family. Mia comes along to say bye and invites them to meet a guy she is serious with and Karen graciously accepts the offer. The man Mia is seeing is much older, Mia has told him everything and he actually wants Hank to come clean and say that Mia’s book is his. He thinks they could benefit financially from this. Mia’s man makes some snobby comments about Hank’s parenting and Hank ends up beating him up pretty good. He calls the cops as Hank leaves. Hank goes home and tells Karen the truth about Mia before the cops come. The episode ends with Hank being put in a cop car as Becca is trying to say bye to him.

Hank satisfies the needs of a lot of women going through their own sexual struggles. At the same time, he is disrespecting his Karen and Becca so it makes for a lot of interesting conflict throughout the seasons. I’m on season four right now and I’m hooked, there are seven seasons total so there is a good pace of conflict throughout the series.



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