Californication: Getting the Poison Out, Review

Playing wingman for his son proves to be too much of a challenge for Hank. That's nothing a prostitute can't fix.

For the most part, Californication has been a pretty self-aware show. It’s here, now in its somewhat improbable seventh season, because it stuck to a formula and made no apologies for the type of show it was going to bring you every Sunday. Even when Hank seemingly paid the price for the show’s objectification of women by going to prison, he hardly emerged a new man. Maybe he wasn’t as horny, but the Hank we’ve seen since publishing “Fucking and Punching” doesn’t even know what to make of his twisted relationship with women.

It’s one thing for Hank to wallow down his own path of self-pity. It’s another to bring his loved ones down with him. That’s the central problem in Californication’s latest episode “Getting the Poison Out.” After Hank summons a prostitute to help Levon lose his virginity, his relationship with Karen, his attitude toward women and his ability to be a father are called into question.

We’ve gotten to the point in the series where Hank is almost too lazy to question his own actions. “Is this wrong?” He asks. “I can’t tell anymore.” In one of the more self-aware episodes of the series, its main character is completely clueless, failing to realize the effects of his actions on the people around him. Look no further than Hank’s past hookups that reverberate around town. When Hank tries to introduce Levon to a woman at a bar, he learns that she’s a former pupil from his days as a professor. “I totally forgot about that,” he says of the foray into teaching. It’s been so long we have too, Hank. 

By now, we know that naughty rumors about Hank pollute the California air. If you’re Hank Moody, you can’t get a breath in without hearing about your past indiscretions. When Levon hears that Hank not only bedded one of his students, but also his teaching assistant, and not to mention the dean’s wife, he couldn’t help but be envious of his old man. After all, Levon has never even had a girlfriend. He’s the kid who gets a little too aggressive over text and the girls go silent.

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Levon’s office behavior shows that his perception of women is clearly way off. He has a lot to learn if he wants to woo a woman. To Hank, the quick fix is setting him up with a prostitute. Levon sees no problem with it. “This is exactly what I thought having a father would be like,” he says, clearly not understanding the role of women, nor fathers. 

Of course, it takes a visit from Karen for Hank to question the message he’s sending as a father. As the voice of reason, Karen’s pressed Hank on his womanizing ways before. Here, she asks Hank if he wants to show Levon that women only exist to satisfy a man’s urges. Her food for thought is quickly overshadowed by Levon’s decision to go through with the sex act. While the episode had some of the more self-aware dialogue in recent memory, Californication knows its audience and reverted back to its old ways. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I thought this was one of the funnier episodes in a long time. However, I would like to see Hank grow, or at least start a spiral out of control, as we near the end.

Best of the Rest:

Charlie and Marcy’s son is already learning the family business. No, not representing talent, but the waxing business. Stewart is no stranger to a woman’s body: “It looks like a big pink walnut.” 

Mary Lynn Rajskub has been superb as Charlie’s new client, Goldie. Only a nutjob would dream of being represented by the masturbating agent.  

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