From I Like to Watch over at Salon, Boomer bust
Hank (from Showtime’s Californication) grumbles about how hopelessly full of shit everyone around him is, but seems to have little interest in anything beyond alcohol and screwing random women. How you build a narrative around a charmless, irredeemably smug fuck like Hank is anyone’s guess. It certainly didn’t work all that well in the show’s uneven, only occasionally amusing first season.
Heather’s view has some validity in regards to Hank’s attitude. Its an archtypical character that has been around since the days of Jack Kerouac, who i suspect Hank is partly modeled – either Jack, Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Robbins. There is some ultimate truth about our culture and only those with special insights like Jack or Hank are able to cut through all the bs to bring us those truths. Its been said any writer that thinks their writing is worth paying for is guilty of some arrogance. Like many characters, anti-heroes in that mold, Hank has his saving graces. He admits once in a while that he is a screw-up. He loves his daughter. Hank isn’t judmental himself – if Heather wanted to ala Kim Cattral of Sex in the City, try out a new boyfriend every week, Hank wouldn’t say a thing. He loves his daughter. He love’s hs daughter’s mother. Who is not his wife. An important omission from Heather’s critique. Hank and Karen (Natascha McElhone) lived together for about fifteen years before she decided to see if there weren’t greener pastures to be had. Hank with remarkable patience and humor hangs around trying to get her back. If while Karen is sleeping with the ultra rich media mogul, Hank wants to sleep around, Heather and everyone else has the right to exercise their finger wagging deeply serious moralizing muscle, but Hank is within his rights. He is not married and his live in girl friend, mother of their daughter is shagging another guy – and she drinks and gets high too. As far as substance abuse, would he be a better person if he did nothing but watch Brady Bunch reruns and eat bran flakes or would he just be boring. Heather, I suspect thinks there is an actual No Exit room where the president of Exxon and Hank discuss who lead a more responsible fulfilling life and the president of Exxon wins. Hank is aggravating, but only because he isn’t living up to a level of talent that many people would envy. The show is something of a lesson in “sleazy middle-aged fun”. The viewer gets to learn a lesson vicariously through Hank. That one should learn to discriminate between having some fun and over indulgent excess. It is probably a mistake to see the show as simply a tale about Hank or any other of the character’s excesses. It could just as easily been about the leader of a multi-million dollar church that wears two thousand dollar suits and a Rolex as a few billion people go without fresh potable water everyday. Or a politician that has a near sociopathic inability to empathize with average working class Americans and exaggerates national security threats as he sends young Hanks off to die. I don’t know that those last two would be as funny, but the premise and dialectic wouldn’t be much different. When it comes time to face the gatekeeper to that great Spaghetti Factory in the sky, the Hanks, as boorish as they are will probably go to the head of the line. The Rolex wearing demigods and corporate presidents with a plantation owner mentality might have some explaining to do.
I do wish the producers happen by Salon and do something about the sub-plots with Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy (Pamela Adlon). They’re like lead weights around the show’s neck. They’re not funny or interesting – they’re like watching white bread go stale.
Reading the NYTimes piece on McCain’s high stakes craps lifestyle raises significant questions. Not just about McCain’s reckless lack of judgment by gambling at a casino that fell under his oversight purview, but also his lax follow-through on Indian Affairs and Commerce for “friends.” Recall McCain didn’t bother to subpoena Ralph Reed in the Abramoff investigation and all those as-yet-unreleased e-mails?
Heather Havrilesky wrote this about Hank, “He lives among sleazy middle-aged miscreants and he can’t stand not to be a part of the sleazy middle-aged fun.”