The world was much different in 2000. Sure, the Spanish were still guzzling Sangria and the Eastern hemisphere was lodged in a cement distrust of American sensibilities, but David Duchovny was a loser. Being cast as the male protagonist of a cult sci-fi TV series is not what made him a loser; rather, it was playing the “believer” opposite Gillian Anderson’s “skeptic” on The X-Files that placed Duchovny beneath the cool threshold. “Believing,” per se, was not cool in 2000. That was the year that Y2K was nothing more than a handy acronym and religious fanatics of all creeds were robbed of the Apocalypse, the Resurrection, the Messiah, and the End of Days. So Agent Fox Mulder, the stubbled ET believer so deftly portrayed by Duchovny, became the unspoken crucible for everyone’s frustrations in faith. He was a fool for believing. Not so with Agent Dana Scully—she was Mulder’s faithless foil, she was not convinced of extraterrestrial activity, and she was hot. There was a time when you could find as many fake nude pictures of Gillian Anderson as you could of Britney Spears. People were enamored and infatuated with her, and extended their fixation into a widespread undercurrent of talk that Mulder and Scully were busy making little terrestrials of their own.
One year later, the world resembled its 2000 edition: Duchovny was still attributing paranormal phenomena to alien life on FOX, and sci-fi was still out of vogue everywhere outside of virginal Magic the Gathering cells. Oddly, though, Duchovny’s reputation was salvaged by 9/11, since Americans were jolted into recognizing the existence of abnormality. The terrorists stirred alien imagery, since the only precedent for anything like possessed psychopaths eviscerating buildings with jumbo jets lay in movies like Independence Day and War of the Worlds, and even Men in Black. September 11th wrought such novel horror that normal citizens ratified the reality that our world is shaped by things that we can't possibly imagine. That’s how President Bush got us into Iraq, that’s how he got re-elected after doing so, and that’s how David Duchovny became cool. He was the guy who knew it all along. Perhaps he didn’t prophesize Al-Qaeda, but he knew something was up, and we felt dumb for doubting him. When the last X-Files episode aired in 2002, it was broadcast to a terrified, believing public, whose credulity negated its previous conviction that David Duchovny was laughable.
Thus, DD has been cool for exactly 6 years. Which is perfect, since it’s been in those 6 years that I’ve done the following: started writing, stopped believing in certain religious dictums, developed a propensity for walking around in my boxers with a glass of scotch, and wondered at length about why everyone in Los Angeles is addicted to plastic surgery. Essentially, in the six years that Duchovny’s had street cred, I’ve developed many of the base traits that he’s come to embody in Californication, his brand-new Showtime series.
In a polar departure from his Fox Mulder career, Duchovny plays Hank Moody, a brilliant author living in LA who drinks, covets his ex-girlfriend (with whom he has a 12-year-old daughter, Becca), and blogs for the fictional Hell-A magazine (owned by his ex’s current fiancée) about his distaste for Los Angeles’s cosmetically obsessed citizens. He is obnoxious, impetuous, dependent and immature. At the same time, he is brilliant, hopeful, helpful and wonderfully paternal. As you might imagine, Hank Moody is a very good television character.
For all their cosmetic differences, Mulder and Moody share an ability to see past the surface. For Agent Mulder, that vision manifested in his knowing, as he was so wont to declare, that “the truth is out there.” For Moody, it lies in so ably dissecting beneath the glitz and glam of rhinoplasty and Ferraris.
Stay Square, David