S4E4: When Californication is on its game, it captures a wide range of human emotion -- from the wacked-out silliness of seeing some dude accidentally kill himself while masturbating (yes, that happened this week) to watching Hank deal with Karen meeting a new man. Although both moments are on the opposite sides of the human emotion spectrum, they still feel genuine. That's because Californication isn't pretending to be something that it's not. It accepts that it is a farce, and through that, it's able to illustrate its characters feelings and actions -- no matter how odd or absurd -- successfully.
So on that note, let's dive into this week's episode -- which illustrated the show at its best -- "Monkey Business."
"Well, who wants to get baked?"
Welp, Hank's finished the screenplay for Fucking and Punching and, unsurprisingly, everybody loves it. Charlie calls it "brilliant" and takes Hank to meet the financing producer Zig, who's a billionaire. He loves it as well, but "hates screenplays," so the group of them head back to his billionaire mansion to do some cold-reads. And, well, that's where things got a little interesting. Here's what happened: They do the reading. It turns Zig on so much (yes, the script turned him on), that he demands to get a blowjob in front of everyone (then leaves to go masturbate and die). Sisters start making out with each other. Charlie accidentally kills a monkey. And, well, yeah. That was that. Then they all then do the logical thing and get baked.
"Quick. Punch me in the stomach."
Marcy lets Becca's new band (Queens of Dogtown, which I still think is a stupid name) practice at her house while her and Karen hang out. Marcy complains about all the telling signs of pregnancy, so they go pick up a test. Turns out, Marcy is preggers! Except she's not too happy about it, and really, doesn't know who the husband is. (According to her, it can't be Charlie because he's "snipped"). Now this seems like the logical progression for Marcy's character. She's spent the past three seasons stressing how much she hates kids, so of course, she gets pregnant. I appreciate the writers taking a risk with this type of plot twist. Marcy's loud/obnoxious act was getting a little old and redundant, so making her pregnant forces her to go through some big character changes.
"Sensible and trusting. That's me in a nutshell."
"How high are you right now?"
-Hank and Abby
So, yeah. Zig accidentally committed suicide while he masturbated. Hank doesn't know what to do, so he calls his "lady lawyer" (better known as Abby), but before she arrives a cop car shows up. The over-eager officer decides the best move is to taser everyone -- well, at least Charlie. He tries for Hank, but instead gets a fist in his face. Then Abby shows up, fixes everything, flirts with Hank, and all is well.
Honestly, I'm pretty sure Californication is the only show on television that could get away with this type of plot twist, and actually have it be believable. One of the faults that critics point to in this show is that everything that happens is so over-the-top and in-your-face. Sure, living as a Bukowski-esque writer in Hollywood probably isn't really like Californication, but I don't think the show has ever tried to make the argument that it's presenting a realistic viewpoint. Instead, it's a farce. Now within that crazy, absurd world, these types of weird situations happen. And that's okay. They may not be believable in our world, but they are believable in the world of Californication.
"Not everyone can say they have a picture of when they first meet someone."
Karen meets Ben, Becca's bandmate's father, who's an artist. The two hit it off immediately, and Hank walks in and sees them enjoying a glass of wine together. Rather than making a big scene like he usually does, he instead backs off, lets it happen, and leaves.
As I stated in the intro, it's moments like this that makes Californication quality television. Without much effort, the show gracefully moves from the absurd scene at the mansion to a quiet moment at Marcy's house. And it's able to do this because of the ensemble's solid acting. When Ben and Karen meet, although the moment is brief, the two actors clearly show that there's chemistry between their two characters. Then, when Hank comes in and sees what's going on, he quietly removes himself. With any other actors who weren't so confident in their characters, the scene would've easily come off as cliche. But, because the actors know what they're doing and trying to accomplish, they are able to sell the scene as genuine.
Overall, this week's episode was the season's best. "Monkey Business" contain all the things that makes this show great, balancing both the silly and the serious moments with grace. Let's keep it up, shall we?