‘Californication’: David Duchovny Thinks All the Nudity On the Show Distracted Viewers

Showtime has a reputation for pushing limits that even gritty shows on HBO and Cinemax can’t match within the realm of premium cable. From Shameless to Black Monday, the network has a brand of presenting hyper-realistic portrayals of everyday problems. One of its most successful series, Californication, lived up to its name with graphic depictions of sexual encounters. If you ask star David Duchovny, however, he believes that it all served a purpose. 

David Duchovny on set of 'Californication' getting into a car
David Duchovny | Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

The Showtime Brand 

In a 2012 article for The Hollywood Reporter, Lacey Rose showcased the Showtime Brand. The author wrote the piece as Homeland added a little bit of prestige to a network that was once known as a peddler of wares that bordered on the softcore pornographic. While Showtime was always more than shows like The Red Shoe Diaries, the network did not yet establish its reputation as a maker of high-end television. 

Yes, there were hit series like Nurse Jackie and Dexter, but the network tried to add a little prestige to its brand’s edginess in recent years. Fast forward almost a decade, and the strategy appears to be working. Several series helped to pave the way for this. Still, one show, Californication, served as a fitting bridge between the old Showtime and the new one. 

What was Californication?

According to IMDbCalifornication came in the years leading up to the shift at Showtime. With television royalty in David Duchovny and a title that gave away the show’s content, the series explored Hank Moody’s descent into madness as he tried to get out of a years-long writer’s block. While Moody was aware of his demons, he coped with them in increasingly destructive ways — namely drugs and sex. 

The show was on the air for four years, and while Duchovny’s Hank was the backbone of the show, it grew into an ensemble piece that showcased the talents of the rest of the cast as well. The show was a comedy that was not afraid to pull on heartstrings, too. However, if you ask Duchovny, sometimes the series’ sexual situations caused people to forget that it was speaking on some genuine mental health issues, excess, and the demons that we all face from time to time. He spoke about this with Rolling Stone.

Duchovny on Californication

Duchovny, who, as Reuters noted, publicly battled his own sexual addiction, spoke about the series in a 2014 interview as it was just beginning to wrap things up. Acknowledging the show’s excesses and the way they bring people into Hank’s battle, he also worried that they missed the subtext that drove all of his actions. 

“The T&A on the show seemed to be the thing people hung their hat on, but I went to work trying to do really good comedy,” Duchovny says, looking back. “It’s too bad [the nudity distracted viewers], because I think that people may have missed a really good show underneath all that mountain of T&A,” Duchovny told Rolling Stone. 

No stranger to the dangers of excessive living, Duchovny wanted the show to go out with a cautionary bang. “I wanted Hank to get married to Karen right before he died. That was my idea. Tom [Kapinos] and I would talk about, but it was never actually an option that was discussed with any kind of reality,” he told the magazine.

Instead, the series ended with Hank connecting with a son that he did not love and realizing that the love of his life is marrying another person. However, it must have worked. The series is still revered by fans and critics alike, and while Duchovny will forever be linked to his work on The X Files, Hank Moody may be his most personal role yet.