Showtime may be dominated by female-driven comedies, but now it’s time for the men to take center stage. Weeds, The Big C, Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara are all great, but now Showtime has paired two male-centric comedies, the sex-fueled David Duchovny series Californication and the Matt LeBlanc TV insider comedy Episodes.
Californication‘s fourth season picked up right where it left off, with the downward spiral of writer Hank Moody (Duchovny). He’s been arrested for beating up the boyfriend of Mia, the girl who stole his book after she slept with him when she was just 16. That’s a ton of crime, but there’s always a silver-lining, and this season it comes in the form of a movie being based on his book, the not-safe-for-cineplexes F***ing and Punching.
With more women to sleep with, more money to spend and more criminal proceedings awaiting him, it’s going to be a difficult year for Moody to navigate.
The other Showtime comedy is the new series Episodes, a look at a pair of British TV writers coming to America to work on an adaptation of their hit series. The show’s big star is Matt LeBlanc from Friends as … himself. Well, sort of. It’s clearly a slightly heightened version of the star, with constant jokes about his intelligence and ability to pull off starring in a TV show about a wise headmaster at an all-boys school.
If you’re a fan of TV, the behind-the-scenes look at the making of a TV show will be endlessly fascinating, especially since attempting to keep the show’s integrity fails at every moment.
While LeBlanc might get top billing, he’s actually a supporting star to the show’s real leads, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as the married British TV writers Sean and Beverly Lincoln. Mangan is delightfully whimsical as a man taken with the Hollywood lifestyle, but the real revelation is Greig. On a show dominated by male stars, Greig is a real standout as a simple woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, even if it is with a sarcastic aside.
Viewers may initially tune in for LeBlanc, but it’s Greig who should keep you coming back for more. She has the blend of melancholy and comedy as Emma Thompson in Love Actually, one of my favorite performances in one of my favorite movies. American audiences unfamiliar with her work on the BBC shows Black Books or Green Wing will certainly be impressed.
Californication airs Sundays at 9pm on Showtime, followed by Episodes at 9:30pm.
(Images courtesy of Showtime)