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Californication: Must Be Nice

"This is the worst day of my life," says Hank Moody. But his is a charmed life, so it’s a day that begins and ends with sex. (In the middle, several woman fawn over him.)

To mark the end of the semester, Felicia has put together a luncheon of Hank’s lovers, and, because this is television, they attend.

At this Tiger Woods tea party, we learn several things: Stacy is a Civil War re-enactor, Hank is a lousy teacher (which is disappointing but somehow not surprising), and Felicia, despite her recent excitement about carving herself a new life, may stay with her husband. No one says anything too uncomfortable, asking Hank, for example: “Is it possible you’ve contracted a venereal disease that has been passed along to each of us, an L.A. highway of microbes?” No one asks Karen “Why do you put up with this?” Instead, they tease Hank about his ego and there’s a faux duel with blanks over Felicia’s honor. Civil, indeed. Most far-fetched of all (and that says a lot, given the duel), we find that the professor Hank replaced at the college, Richard Bates, is someone Karen had an affair with decades ago. What are the odds?

But it is one of the funnier scenes, as Professor Bates shows up fresh from rehab. Hank simply short-circuits with jealousy, unable to concentrate on anything else, as Karen dives into both conversation and fervent nostalgia with the (apparently more successful) teacher. “No one’s paying attention to me!” he seems to be sputtering. And in Hank’s mind, this wipes the slate clean: He had a triumvirate of tail in the past few months, and Karen had an affair before she met him. Now they’re even, he imagines.

The whole episode, the penultimate one of the season, smacks of sewing up loose ends. Charlie and Marcy finally sell their house, and the divorce papers arrive, but they celebrate by having sex in the last remaining room in the home they’ve left “virgin”: the bathroom. One broken sink later, it’s up in the air whether they’ll sign those papers after all.

As the ep ends, Felicia explains that academics can’t survive in the real world. So the hermetic bubble of college closes in around the non-Moody characters as the Moody clan prepares to head back to New York. Hank and Karen go to bed. All is forgiven? We hope not.

Josh Gajewski in the L.A. Times notes that the episode shows us Hank both jealous and feeling inferior and that these “never-before-seen shades of Hank Moody make his character infinitely more interesting.”
Danny Gallagher of TV Squad longs for Hank to get a deserved “ass-kicking” and wonders whether Felicia wants revenge or is trying to help Hank grow up.

Photo: Courtesy of Showtime