Friday, January 21, 2011

TV shows that give me writing boners

You would think the most obvious type of writing porn would be the novel about the writer or a non-fiction stint about a famous scribbler. The latter is a little better than the former but neither is totally gratifying. The novel feels poisoned by the writer writing himself out of a bad case of writer's block, his protagonist overly self-indulgent. The non-fiction option is either a thinly veiled fan letter to the writer you're reading about, or is likely to lead you down a road of self-loathing and asking questions like, "why is my writing/life not as interesting as this wildly successful, intellectual freak of the world?"

Weirdly enough, just how I like to view my porn, the thing that gets my writing boner up —outside of good writing— is something that is visual. "Californication" on Showtime and "Bored To Death" on HBO are two TV shows about writers. Between them, they cover most of the eccentricities you would like to find in your favorite writers.

"Californication" is the most successful of the two and is currently in its forth season. The show follows the charming protagonist, Hank Moody, played by David Duchovny, who's been skating off the success of his first major novel for several years now. The money is long gone, the relationship with the love of his life has crumbled and Moody now lives in a perpetual bender of sex, drugs and booze, as he tries to overcome writer's block. It's a little stereotypical, but Duchovny's charm and the weird webs his character weaves throughout Los Angeles are enough to keep the show interesting. Plus, there are A LOT of people fucking in this show, and I'm never against that.

While "Californication" exerts an unrealistic, rock-star mentality towards writing and its protagonist, "Bored To Death" is the exact opposite. Jason Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames, a nebbish writer with a kind, stoner heart. He too is living off the light success of a first novel and is having difficulty writing his second. When his long-term girl friend leaves him, he decides to post an ad on Craigslist to offer his non-existent services as a private detective... on a complete fucking whim! He bumbles through a few cases, using only the knowledge he's learned from reading detective novels and eventually learns that he has a knack for the P.I. biz. In addition to Schwartzman, the show is endowed with a great cast. Ted Danson plays a wealthy, out-of-touch publisher and Galifianakis a spiritually constipated comic book writer/artist with a fixation on boners. The end result is a fantastic, light-hearted, stoner comedy with the intellectual scene of NYC as its backdrop.

For me, as a person struggling to grasp the title of 'writer,' both of these shows entertain certain fantasies about being a writer. The perpetual freedom of not having a job and being able to write day-in and day-out, mostly. But also, the access to some non-existent world of weird situations, crazed sex and quirky decisions that would flesh out a great writer.

At this point, I'm so attached to these shows that I wish that the characters' books actually did exist, so I could read them.

If you don't have HBO or Showtime and realistically balance your entertainment budget, as I obviously don't, you should Netflix this stuff soon.


-RWWGreene said...

Lest we not forget, there are "Castle" and "Murder She Wrote," which prove, beyond a doubt, the intellectual superiority of writers. There's less sex, but a lot more murder, sexual tension ala "Moonlighting," comedic hi-jinks and bad Maine accents. Plus, that Jessica Fletcher was a fox.

Dan Brian said...

Word to Jessica Fletcher. I keep meaning to give "Castle" a chance, but every time I see an ABC logo, I start fumbling for the remote.