You know, Showtime is giving HBO a run for its money in the high-production-value TV serial department. Since I heard Duchovny won some award, and I'd already been impressed with the quality of Dexter and Weeds, I figured I'd see what Californicaion had to offer. I find that I like it.
Firstly, I do enjoy David Duchovny. As a teenage fan of The X-Files, I always thought it was kind of a bummer that his and Gillian Anderson's careers never took off. Seemed like a lot of talent there in their brainy personai. Duchovny seems quite at home in the role of a self-destructive down and out (though still living quite well) New York City author moved to Hollywood. It's not easy to pull off the intricate mix of sour self-loathing and towering hubris, peppered through with the occasional flashes of authentic charismatic genius that the character requires to not read as a total douchebag. Indeed the actor may be cribbing from his own life more than a little, but regardless it's highly watchable.
Secondly, Natascha McElhone is captivating as the leading lady, which is essential for the whole formula to work. If we don't love her, the whole thing falls apart. Thankfully, we do. Or at least I do, and so I buy the essential premise hook line and sinker. The narrative revolves around this on/off relationship, and it's through this that we see the characters' redeeming aspects as well as their deepest flaws. It's from this love story that the show draws its power. There's an awful lot of fucking, yes, but because at the center of it all is a heartbreakingly jilted romance, the whole achieves a level of emotional sincerity that saves it from the gratuitous precipice on which it sometimes teeters.
The result feels like a dirtier, brainier, more grown-up take on Entourage; SAT vocabulary words, french-cinema sex-farce, and a strong romantic through-line, but also an exploration of the American culture industry and the people caught up in its workings. Entertaining stuff.
I'm perhaps biased here, because I feel the sexual ethos of the program dovetails with my own sensibilities quite well, which isn't something I frequently find. My particular blend of feministic chauvinism / power-tripping cunnilingus is pretty far outside the strike zone of mainstream sex-as-marketing, so seeing it mirrored back in a cultural product gets me thinking -- which is all I really ever do these days anyway -- but maybe, just maybe, it gets me thinking in a way that might lead to doing... something. At some point.
Sigh. It feels as though I'm retired, sexually. Like I hung up my spurs. I've certainly quit trying, and much as I flatter myself with the notion of being an eligible bachelor and all, fortune favors the bold and if you don't try, well, you can't really expect much. It's who dares wins, and I've not felt daring in quite some time.
An example. Just this past weekend I rolled out on a sly invite to a wedding after-party. Aside from being not as drunk as everyone else, it was as ideal an environment as Humboldt has to offer for meeting women. There were even some pretty ones there, and people I didn't even already know. Heady dready rasta mamas and cute be-booted cowgirls abounded. I even had my inviter offer to introduce me to whoever I wanted. But of course I didn't make anything of it.
And so I wonder, why is this? Some part of it must be fear, and some part of it is certainly a lack of energy/focus, and some just plain old being rusty and out of practice, but these answers seem pathetically vague, especially since I'd actually like to see a change.
I'm reminded of one of my sister's great writerly maxims, a gripping command for the aspiring creative soul: own your shit.
Confronted with that kind of mandate, I have a few responses.
- Josh Koenig has some issues with self-esteem, in particular with his potential value as a partner, even in the most limited of contexts. Without an internal sense of self-worth, it's hard to get very attracted or to be very attractive to anyone else.
- Josh Koenig is also, at some level, sexually repressed. As are most of us, but it's certainly not helping the cause here.
- Josh Koenig worries about the intimacy and vulnerability that truly excellent sexual chemistry facilitates, worries about hurting and being hurt.
That all reads like fear, actually. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. Huh. The more you know. Josh Koenig needs to get back in the game.
Well, I'm not sure when or how this will all change, though I'm sure it will eventually. For my own sake I hope things limber-up soon, but it's a challenge alright. Until I discover, embrace and embody my sexuality as an adult -- as opposed to playing the erotically-inspired Peter Pan act that did so well in my early 20s -- there won't be much joy in mudville. On the other hand it sounds like a fun thing to experiment with, the discovery of a new sexual persona. The notion of experimentation itself has a kind of naughty resonance, the freedom to make mistakes, and it seems to me that unburdening myself of some super-egotistical baggage is probably a good thing here.
But it's late and I'm still a bit under the weather. Given that I've thoroughly disgusted my mother and probably 33% of my other readers, and yet honestly feel no guilt, I believe I'll call it a night and retire in meta-victory.