Created By: Tom Kapinos
Starring: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Madeleine Martin
Californication follows Hank Moody, a self-loathing, semi-alcoholic novelist with a penchant for misadventure as he navigates the glamorously seedy sides of Los Angeles. At the heart of the story, right on the outskirts of all the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, lies his relationship with his young daughter and her long-suffering mother.
First off, what grabbed my attention about this show from the get-go was the amazing rock soundtrack. As a fan of classic rock, the soundtrack was a big reason why I loved this show. And it must have cost a small fortune considering the big names involved.
Anyways, to an almost immature extent, the show doesn’t skimp much on the sex and drugs department neither. Because of that, most people peg this show as shallow escapist entertainment (OK, It is a little). But all the debauchery is redeemed when the story goes back to the heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking relationship between the main character and his daughter. If it wasn’t for that aspect, this show wouldn’t have been anything other than pubescent escapist fantasy into an artist’s stereotypical life. But overall, it’s a really good show balanced well between comedy and tragedy.
Atlanta (2016- )
Created By: Donald Glover
Starring: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield
Atlanta follows Earn (Played by Glover), an aspiring rapper, his cousin/manager (Henry), and their eccentric friend Darius (Stanfield) as they go through all sorts of adventures to make it in the music business. As this is one of the most original and unpredictable shows I’ve seen, it’s hard to even describe the genre, let alone the plot. The only thing I can guarantee about this is that every episode will surprise you. It goes from the hilarious to the truly bizarre, from the terrifying to the insightful masterfully and it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. The only problem with it is that it takes them too long to make it, with as long as 3 years in-between seasons.
Despite being hard to pin down Genre-wise, the comedy in this is the best part of it all. It offers spin and subverts what you’d expect from the usual style of black comedy (I don’t mean dark comedy, I mean the other black).
This show also introduced talented actors that went on to achieve bigger success in other projects, most notably Donald Glover and Lakeith Stanfield.
Overall, No matter what type of show you normally watch, I highly recommend you give this a try.
BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
Animated, Comedy, Drama
Created By: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Voices of: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul
BoJack Horseman follows a has-been actor, who also happens to be an anthropomorphic horse, aptly named BoJack Horseman, as he tries to revive his career however he can, all the while dealing with severe depression.
As you can probably tell from the description, this is not a children’s animated show. Hell, I don’t even think it’s suitable for most adults. This cartoon about talking animals deals with depression, addiction, and even the pointlessness of life better than most serious films I’ve seen.
Inspired by the aforementioned Californication, both shows follow a likable, tortured artist living in LA, both are this close to being forgotten in their fields and both live, albeit reluctantly, every young boy’s dream life. But unlike Californication though, which mostly deals with family and dysfunction, this show consistently leans on the philosophical, introspective side. Existential dreads, morality questions, and “pondering if it’s all worth it” make common and subtle appearances in this show, especially as the show progresses.
But the writing also has enough comedy and wisecracking to keep the nihilism at bay, so it’s not all doom and gloom. It is also a clear satire on the Hollywood lifestyle, written with the realism of people who seem to have lived it. Led by a great cast, and an always surprising list of guest actors, BoJack is a binge-worthy show to pass the time with. But unlike the above shows, it takes a few episodes to get in the stride of it. So, give it a chance and check it out.