Comedy Most Foul: In Praise of Character Actors

<i>Californication</i>'s Pamela Adlon with her onscreen husband, Evan Handler

Californication's Pamela Adlon with her onscreen husband, Evan Handler

I’m enamored with Pamela Adlon’s portrayal of Marcy on the show Californication. Warning to all parental units and decent folk, and those few who are both: This show is FOUL. And I mean FOUL. And you know if I think it’s FOUL that you shouldn’t so much as look at the DVD cover. In fact, it’s so FOUL that after seeing the pilot (which is not even the FOULest episode by half), I flatly refused to ever watch it again. (I did the same thing with Oz, another FOUL show: After the pilot, I thought, well, I can never watch that again. Then I thought, but there are two more episodes on the DVD and I did pay for the rental… [updated version of Baji’s favorite Woody Allen joke: “Boy, this show is really FOUL. Yeah, I know, and so few episodes per season.”] Cut to six years and six seasons later: me shivering in a corner, too afraid to shower because dusk has fallen.)

So, that was that. Unlike the FOULness of Oz, which in the end succeeded in putting me off the show only for about half an hour, the excessive fake boobage of Californication put me off the show for a year. And I’m not sure what happened next. It was some combination of my friend Y’s recommendation (no fan of FOUL shows she, Y prefers to spend her days chasing pandas, and yet…) and the fact that it was readily available on Netflix on Demand amid such fare as Seven Pounds and shows about the dangers of fishing that led me back to it. (You can see how fake boobage would seem appealing in comparison.)

Turns out that, like Oz, Californication is FOUL and also really good. It’s very funny and the acting is top-notch. But, once again, I would like to stress that it is too FOUL for anyone other than me to watch. So don’t do it. As Marcy, Adlon, who also voices Bobby on King of the Hill, is the most adorable, dirty-mouthed pixie-sized creature this side of the Smurfs (what did you think “smurf” meant?). I watched Unscripted solely because IMDB told me that she was on it (interesting show, by the way, and not in the least FOUL).

Either buy me Photoshop or quit scoffing at my Microsoft Word–created images. Your choice.

Either buy me Photoshop or quit scoffing at my Microsoft Word–created images. Your choice.

I’m the kind of OCD person who feels compelled to watch DVD commentaries. Ninety-nine percent of the time these are blizzards of diarrhea snowing from the mouths of talented but semiwitted folk. Yes, Jon Hamm, I can see that you’re talking to your secretary, it’s ON THE SCREEN. YOU WERE NOT BROUGHT IN TO DO A DVD COMMENTARY IN ORDER TO TELL ME WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE SHOW I JUST WATCHED. Ahem. At one point during the Mad Men commentary, one actor started to say, “Later in this episode…” and the others shushed him, urging him not to “spoil it.” Dear, darling Mad Men actors, we don’t watch the DVD commentaries instead of watching the show without commentary. We are anal and possibly friendless, but not stupid.

If you want a brilliant DVD commentary track, hire Pamela Adlon, whether or not she was actually in your movie or TV show. She will share interesting tidbits about the location choices, she’ll tell you that that guy there is going out with the girl from last season, she’ll tell you that she doesn’t remember who that actress is but that she thinks she’s pretty, she’ll tell you that the guy playing the star of Vaginatown (yes, it’s a porn movie based on Chinatown) is David Duchovny’s best friend, but she can’t remember his name either, she’ll ask you if you think the parents of that girl simulating, uh, something are dead and conclude that it’s probably best if they are, she’ll scream whenever there is any onscreen sex and tell you to cover your eyes, she’ll scream whenever she herself appears onscreen, and she’ll tell you that when she first met Natascha McElhone all she could think was “eyes, cheekbones, hair,” which is just about what I think whenever Natascha McElhone appears onscreen (that’s a compliment, by the way, if the absence of the word “boobs” didn’t already clue you in).

I love her and so do you. This was the least filthy clip I could find (in it Marcy’s husband is wearing boxer shorts and a lobster bib). You had better not watch it. And you had better not watch Californication. And so you’ll never know why you love her. But just know that you do.


5 responses to “Comedy Most Foul: In Praise of Character Actors

  1. 1. love the updated version of the w.a. joke.
    2. “true blood” is FOUL too so it should be right up your alley!
    3. brilliant commentary tracks should always include some sort of whedonesque musical number as well, no?
    4. also brilliant commentary? arrested development.
    5. also brilliant commentary? you.

  2. At the moment, True Blood remains too FOUL for me. It’s got the sex of Californication and the violence of Oz (actually, the violence may be even worse than on Oz). I watched the first episode at night (mistake), then watched two more during daylight (those vampires won’t get me…), but that only helped a little.

  3. you are correct that the first few episodes were gruesome and over-the-top bloody but they tamed down after that. don’t you want to join the Alexander Skarsgård fan wagon with me and LB? if this doesn’t hook you, then you are free to live your life without knowing why you love him. but just know that you do.

  4. G – you’re so silly, I’ve watched both and TB is NOWHERE near the horror that was Oz

  5. LB – I guess like B said, it must get less violent after that, so I’ll give it another go. But that scene at the end of episode 2 was horrific. Oz has little bursts of horrifying scenes, but True Blood‘s was looooong. The Rattrays made me uncomfortable even when they were just walking around.

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