Over spring break, I found some time to catch up on some of my favorite TV shows, something I never have time for while school is in session. I also started watching a new show – new for me, at least, as it’s been around since 2007 – called Californication, starring David Duchovny as Hank Moody (and if you watch Sex & the City, Hank’s agent is played by Evan Handler, Charlotte’s husband). While I was home over break, I managed to watch close to 15 episodes (don’t judge, they are all less than 30 minutes long).
I think one of the reasons I fell in love with this show almost immediately is because its protagonist is a writer. Hank Moody is pessimistic, self-loathing, brutally honest and loving, and simultaneously hopeful and disappointed as the show progresses. Movies and TV shows centered around writers as protagonists are not rarities in themselves, but hardly ever do we successfully see beyond the pessimistic façade and into the intimate, personal lives of these writers in such depth. Appropriately, this show happens to be extremely well written.
What’s the flaw here?
Unfortunately, this show couldn’t be any further from reality than Star Wars.
Hank Moody writes one novel, and becomes an overnight sensation. A young girl steals one of his manuscripts, publishes it, and likewise experiences overnight fame. The two writers live in architectural paradise in the richest corner of LA. This never happens, or it happens so rarely that it’s not even worth debate.
Perhaps this is what makes the show so successful: people want Hank’s life (Hey, I wouldn’t mind becoming rich and famous just for my writing, would you?), so the writers of Californication decided to capitalize on this writer’s fantasy that undeniably appeals to the majority population of non-writers as well.
But this begs the question: why does Hollywood (specifically, Hollywood writers) get the real-life writer so wrong?
Not all male writers are as attractive as Duchovny, and I would guess that most would disapprove of his seduction techniques (namely, picking up 16-year-old girls by reading his own books in a local Borders). Furthermore, many real-life novelists are successful and prolific writers, while movie or TV novelists are almost always blocked (or complete failures).
It’s clear that the life of a writer remains one of the few mysteries that Hollywood has yet to truly unravel.