In watching Californication a show I loved for its sexual abandon, I’m beginning to see the same moralisation we get from most TV, albeit more subtly dressed. Ultimately Hank’s sexual identity is still frowned upon, is still viewed as negative. Hank is taking his depression out on those around him. Perhaps it says more about me, and my state that I never saw it that way, true enough he gets himself into many a pickle, and even I sometimes think “c’mon Hank”. I think we could all agree where Hank lies, or cheats or manipulates his way into a girls panties, he is in the wrong, but unless you define sex by traditional, conservative notions, why is a sexually liberated man, having consensual sex with other liberated women, not a good thing?

Studio executives? Conservative audiences? Programming the ‘good’ life into people? I don’t want to be too conspiratorial here, it may be a mix of all of the above, it may be that my sexual and emotional compass is skewed, but I don’t watch Californication to be told that I should be in a relationship, and what a confused message dug so deep into that show to have.

Hank is in love with Karen, the show has always been about his hedonism messing that up, I often wonder how the character who drinks, smokes and whores his life away could possibly have the abs he does, but we’re watching TV aren’t we. I also think about Duchovny’s own troubles with so-called ‘sex addiction’ if a thing even exists and I don’t think it does. And we see that in the show – sex addiction is not a real thing, it is just what men, given the right man, and circumstances are. Hank is a good-looking guy, with  good dress sense, some money and a way with both the printed and spoken word, considering women are largely turned on by words, presence, power and a body to boot, it’s not hard to see why Hank sleeps with as many women as he does.

But is sex a bad thing? In season 5 they explore notions of what porn does to a man in Charlie, suggesting that if you watch a lot of porn, you will lose your inability to talk and act according to the rules of society with women. This, like so much TV is an exaggerated archetype of what the writers suppose is common experience, but I don’t think it rings true. You may be able to tell I’m liberal-minded, there may be a real discussion on porn and it’s effects on feminism (think of the dualistic whore/madonna issue), and the portrayal of women (see here for some discussion of mine on that), but as far as the effect porn has on a person, negatively? The position may be more nuanced than this, but there is none (see here for my analysis on this issue), not only that, as my article suggests there are even positives to watching porn. And that harks back to what I was discussing earlier, I guess a show needs to address all view points, particularly one such as Californication that is going to prima facie offend most religious and socially conservative people, by discussing some of their talking points. But this doesn’t feel like discussion, this feel like making a statement, although, I haven’t watched all of season 5 yet.