Europeans don’t care about sex. Whether it’s lusty adultery, underage sex, overage sex, sex by the beach — they just don’t seem to care. And that comes as joyous news to Tom Kapinos, creator of “Californication,” the brashly risque new David Duchovny series on Showtime.
Duchovny’s character, Hank Moody, is struggling through a midlife crisis that manifests itself in oodles of explicit sexual encounters. And that explains why it’s on pay cable stateside. But in Europe and some other big TV markets, Hank’s hanky-panky has become fair game for free over-the-air broadcasters who are airing the series without cuts.
Kapinos admits to being a little taken aback by the fact that the Irish and British are airing the series without restrictions. He says he is so delighted at the fact that nobody seems to care about the grunting and grinding that he’d definitely think about moving across the pond to work. “It never occurred to me before,” he says. “But wouldn’t it be great to have all that freedom open up? It sounds tremendous.”
The U.K’s Five snapped up the series early in its sales cycle because it saw “Californication” as a “smart and sophisticated” show. Ireland’s TV3 took a similar stance. Viewers in Iceland also get to watch. Other major broadcasters taking on the show include Australia’s Network Ten, Sweden’s TV4, Denmark’s TV2 as well as numerous others with whom CBS Paramount Television International have inked licensing deals.
“I think it’s amazing,” Kapinos says. “I first became aware of it when Melanie Greene from the U.K., David’s manager (who also serves as co-executive producer on ‘Californication’), started telling me that the pilot was much more in keeping with European sensitivities. It’s amazing that you can be watching ‘The Office’ one minute, then ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and then you have ‘Californication,’ all on the same channel.
“It goes to the point that here in America it’s acceptable to have 20 procedural shows with dead bodies and all sorts of forensics and murders, but if you deal with sexuality, people go crazy. And that’s been going on since the dawn of time over here,” he adds.
The international markets probably were the furthest thing from his mind when he sat down to write the pilot, Kapinos says. “I never thought about it. I really had no clue about how other countries would react,” he admits. “All I wanted really was to have a writing sample to show people what I was capable of doing.”
On reflection, Kapinos (“Dawson’s Creek”) says that there probably was a sensitivity to European TV watchers that could have been lurking in his subconscious. “I grew up with parents who were big fans of British television, and they introduced me to ‘Fawlty Towers.’ Now there was a character (Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese) who was just so completely unlikable,” he says. “But you found yourself unable to dislike him no matter how embarrassing or excruciating the circumstances that he found himself in.”
That sounds not a bit unlike Kapinos’ cretin Hank Moody.