Californication Season 5 Review – 6.7
A lost season. That is the best way to describe the fifth season of the Showtime series, Californication. A number of things happen, but nothing significant (aside from the final episode). Season 5 may well be forgotten when Californication is over and done with, but it still provided enough laughs and absurdity to make it a worthwhile tromp into Hank’s life.
Californication has never been guilty of taking itself too seriously. It has always had non sequitur elements and absurd scenes that ran parallel to the story of Hank’s mostly troubled life. In season 5, it almost feels like Hank’s life hit a standstill and we were left with only the absurd. Scene after scene involved random encounters that never felt connected to any deeper or more significant story line. For the first time, it felt more like a soap opera than a show about Hank. The flow of the season followed a number of different (and mostly asinine) story-lines.
It starts out several years after season 4 ended. Hank has moved to New York, but immediately we find that he is ran out of town by a crazy (ex?)girlfriend. The opening scene where she is screaming at Hank for not being committed to her after she let him, how do I put this nicely, enter her back door… is vintage Californication. It felt a little sudden for after the ups and downs of season 4, for Hank to just go right back to L.A. It would be nice to see Hank outside of the Becca and Karen world for a little while.
In L.A., Hank finds himself back in a familiar routine. Living with Charlie, pining after Karen, making mistakes with Becca, and writing for someone that he doesn’t really want to. The main arc of this season is Hank’s dynamic with Karen and Becca, as usual. But, in this season, it seems less dramatic. Hank is kind of just “there.” He isn’t really at odds with Karen (she has married to Bates) and Becca seems to be less involved this year than any previous year. Hank is just turning his wheels.
The characters introduced this season don’t have the same lasting impact of characters from previous seasons (I’m looking at you Lou Ashby). There are several new additions, Becca’s boyfriend, Tyler, who portrays basically a young version of Hank. Hank gets wrapped into working for a major rap artist turned actor, Samurai Apocalypse, who is a violent and crazy lunatic. Hank becomes somewhat romantically involved with Samurai’s sometimes girlfriend, Kali. Finally, Charlie becomes enamored with his son’s nanny (shocker…), Lizzie.
None of these additions are really that interesting. Samurai is absurd beyond the point of being likable or realistic. Tyler, for playing a young version of Hank, is all bravado and douchebaggery, and none of the charm. Kali isn’t particularly memorable, though it seemed like her character had the most potential to add something of value to the season. Alas, it mostly seems like she was forgotten and marginalized. Lizzie’s character does have her moments, but again, not someone who will last through to season 6.
Don’t get me wrong, the show is still fun. There are a number of scenes, mostly involving Charlie, that are outright hilarious. One particularly outstanding scene between Charlie and Lizzie sticks out. In it, Charlie makes his move on the much younger Lizzie my moving in for a kiss. However, Charlie amps it up within 2 seconds of the first kiss by sticking his hand up her skirt and attempting to finger her. Lizzie’s reaction, and Charlie’s apology are what makes Californication so good. However, this season seemed to get lost in going for the absurd and wacky.
Throughout the season, I kept thinking that it seemed like the show was in arrested development. Things kept happening, but nothing changed. The season finale did see some major changes, but you have to get through 11 other episodes to reach that point. This season of Californication was definitely my least favorite season, but I still enjoyed it. It became somewhat of a guilty pleasure. It wasn’t really about substance, it was more about seeing the crazy shit the characters would do.
Final Toast: 6.7
Californication has long been one of my favorite shows. Mixing the weird, nasty, funny, and outrageous all together, while also crafting a lovable protagonist in Hank, is no easy task. This season seemed to be lost in its own wake, only going somewhere in the final episode. I never felt like I was just grinding through shows, but I definitely felt, much like Hank, I was spinning my wheels episode after episode. Even if it is the weakest season so far, still a show that can provide laughs and enjoyment. I’ll still be looking forward to season 6.