Hank Moody: The Anti-Pickup Artist

CLASSIC CHARM is a video essay series analyzing the world’s most charming men throughout history to help make you better with the fairer sex.

ESSAY

When you think about the character Hank Moody, the first thing that probably comes to the your mind is a badass, forty-something man that beds tons of women because of how so god-damn cool he is. He carelessly slays women like some guy that slays things that I can’t think of a good example for right now.

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And if you asked anyone to list the reasons why Hank is so successful in the women department you’d likely hear answers like:

It’s cuz he’s an asshole!
He doesn’t answer to no one!
He’s just doesn’t give a f*** about what people think of him.
He’s just so god-darned cool!
OR HOW ABOUT
Because it’s just a TV show!

To answer that last one, I’ve been in the game for too long baby boy that I can state with 100% surety that Hank Moody is by far the most real to life example of what it looks like to be naturally just great with women. Like… the perfect example.

I feel like it’s almost as though they told David Duchovny to just be himself on screen and go improv on everyone else’s written lines. It comes off so real it’s weird and also why I use him as one of the best examples of character with my clients.

But to get back to the reasons why Hank seems to be so god-damned good with women—I think that’s all bullshit. Yeah he’s cool, yeah he’s good-looking with a hot body, a rebel that doesn’t give a fat fart what anyone thinks. Those qualities will bring moderate success to anybody. But the success that the creators of the show proposed for their main character is unprecedented for most men anywhere—real life /and/ on-screen.

Hank has a specific personality trait which most men who want to be good with women lack:

Hank Moody is in love with women. Unconditionally and fully. And this one characteristic drives and influences his entire life.

I can spend hours getting into all the reasons why this one quality is the biggest reason why Hank is so charming, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Most of what he does—his actions, his words, his charm, his childishness, all stem from this. If Hank didn’t love women, he’d be a completely different guy.

And I’ll bet right now you’re thinking: Yeah most of men’s lives are driven by women.

But here’s the difference: Most men do it because they want women. Hank does it because he loves them.

Before I get into some really in-depth examples, I think the best way to help distinguish the excellent qualities of Californication’s Hank Moody is comparing it to the most disgusting, soulless creatures I’ve ever come across: Pick-up Artists.

Pickup artists are constantly on the prowl.
Hank is never on the prowl. He simply lives his life and his demeanor naturally attracts the right women.

Pickup artists have nothing inherently interesting about themselves except their propensity for getting humiliated on national television.
Hank is a novelist who has dedicated his life to the written word.

Pickup artists are all facade. There’s not much depth going on the inside.
Hank throws up in his mouth at facade.
– Smashes his Porsche
– Here’s him teasing the shit out of spiritual guru, Julian, the man with a thousand tricks and uses his teachings merely as a way to manipulate women—as we’ll see a bit later. And Julian thinks hank is so cool.
– Here’s him totes goofing on a little babyboy who values coolness and facade over depth, intellect, and ingenuity.

Every word and action a pickup artist takes is so he can get women to like him.
Every word and action Hank Moody takes around a woman is to somehow show her how great she is.

But enough with bashing Earth’s little turdy rejects. Let’s take a deep dive into exemplifying the conversely classic charm of Hank Moody and his undying love for the fairer sex.

In S02E06, Hank discovers the creepy self-help guru, Julian, having sex with another woman in Lew Ashby’s house. A normal womanizer would congratulate Julian for being such a stud, but Hank immediately is perturbed yelling, “I knew you were an asshole,” and taking a picture of him in the act.

Hank is thinking of the woman in the matter. When he sees her later that day, we see how Julian’s guilted and manipulated her into thinking that having an open relationship is the more spiritual way to go. Hank, being an old-fashioned type of guy, finds it ridiculous.

Later on, when Rolling Stone journalist Annika Staley invites Hank for a drink near the pool, Annika, a 20-something gorgeous woman gives Hank every signal in the book for him to make a move, but Hank seems to be more interested in just having a fun conversation with her. A big thing to learn here is that Hank is a guy that is not desperate for sex from gorgeous women. And because of that, he’s hardly ever looking for it. But the interesting thing you can learn from him here is that Hank enjoys building the tension within the interaction. He flirts and flirts and flirts and doesn’t do anything. The tension builds to the point where it’s usually the woman who is making the move on him—or at the very least giving him an open invitation. This is being great with women. He knows that women enjoy foreplay and mystery over wam-bam-thank-you-mam style.

In S02E07, Hank finds himself trapped in a gazebo with a beautiful latin housekeeper. While sharing a marijuana cigarette with this presumably non-English speaking woman, its obvious all he wants is fun conversation and to possibly make her laugh. Hank makes women laugh not just because it validates his ego but more because he loves to see women happy. And in this instance when he does successfully make her giggle, he mentions, “You’re beautiful when you smile.” Again, its obvious in his tone that he says this not at all to gain any approval from this woman but merely to make her feel loved.

As the interaction progresses, notice how Hank isn’t afraid to dive into her relationship life, just as a good friend would. He listens and non-judgmentally gives his opinion. When she asks him to take off his pants, he misinterprets this as a kind gesture to dry his soaking wet jeans, but his selfless playfulness and genuine interest in who she is turned her on enough for her to make an advance on him. To which Hank keeps playful with the whole situation.

When Rosario tries sneaking Hank out the front of the house, Hank takes the opportunity to fix an obvious wrong with the power dynamic between her and her boss. He isn’t afraid of confrontation because his love for women outweighs any contentious brawl that could result. Also, Hank doesn’t seem to be afraid of men as he’s not afraid of getting punched in the nose—something I have been scared of for years.

/S03E01/
At a dinner party with some classy adults, Hank can’t but help be the most childish guest there. Not because he wants to show off, but because he wants to have fun and throw in a little fire in an otherwise uptight small-talk gathering. The second he has a moment of alone time with the cute single woman sitting next to him, he begins to do what he loves to do—which is flirt. Notice how his sexual interest is communicated from the beginning. Because his intentions are focused entirely on loving the woman that’s in front of him at any given moment and not furthering merely his sex life, the intimate advances made by Hank would come off as completely creepy and way out of place if it were any other man, but completely charming from him. When Jill responds to Hank’s question, she does so fully as she already knows Hank is actually interested in her and not just her lady bits. But as she badly attempts to fend off his charming demeanor, Hank can’t help but continue flirting as he’s genuinely interested and knows it’ll make her smile. Notice how even though this is a hoity-toity dinner party, Hank still treats people as though they’re chatting at a dive bar.

When the night is over, Hank effortlessly invites her to join him for a drink, and when he gets curtly rejected, it’s obvious the effortlessness was because he wasn’t afraid of any adverse response. Again, Hank’s love for women far, far outweighs any need for success with them. And that is what keeps Jill still smiling, and as we’ll see, eventually getting her to proposition him soon thereafter.

In one of my favorite Californication episodes, Hank finds himself at another party. This one with the same women from the previous dinner party. The difference is their relationships. Unlike most men who take a risk and then pull out completely when there seems to be no immediate gratification, Hank invests in his relationships with women. And this always pays off—though not that he cares.

Hank has a knack for showing his attraction for women while simultaneously being a real friend to them. He proves that there should be no hard line between friends and lovers, and that the difference is based purely in sexual attraction. When he sees Jill he compliments her dress and in the next shot is discussing her love life. Hank is childish, irreverent, and brash, but because he takes such genuine interest in the women with which he’s chatting, he’s able to strike a perfect balance that you can’t describe any other way than calling it a classic charm.

In the next excellent scene, Hank and Jill continue their chat about her love failing love life, and Hank continues to show her how amazing and attractive she really is. Keep in mind that he is not leading her on. He’s being upfront about where his own love life is at the moment and isn’t looking for anything long-term. But the tension has built up enough that despite better judgement they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other and decidedly consummate in the annoyingly honorable dean’s home office.

To describe this scene and Hank’s charm perfectly, I’ll cite the comment from a real life woman—Andie Zhang—as she explains it better than I ever could…

> AndieZhang May 06, 2010
> http://www.tv.com/shows/californication/verities-and-balderdash/
>
> So why do women find Hank so irresistible? Fortune and fame? Compared to the rest of the habitants of LA, his little pile of gold and his dirty Porsche can hardly count for much, not even if you throw in his ruggedly handsome looks and his writer’s charm. Here’s what made me realize why Hank will eternally be irresistible to women:
>
> It’s because Hank loves women, he’s not out to conquer territory or increase his score, he simply loves women in a more general sense. That’s why he gave those compliments to Jill. He didn’t need to get laid, […] he only wanted Jill to understand that she is a wonderful, attractive woman. This is almost the kinda advice you’d expect from Sex and the City!
>
> Hank is a woman-lover, not a womanizer. He may express it in unorthodox ways, such as being extremely promiscuous, but he’s never done anything bad to a woman, while he’s pulled plenty of wicked stunts to all the other men on the show. Usually he just acts his normal woman-loving but shit self, and the women come flocking to him. Why? Because we women have a radar for men who don’t only want sex, but who care about us and who respect us. Hank is the most obvious specimen of such a kind. Exaggerated of course because we’re on TV, but this is the modern day Casanova, the type of men that all women love to hate but cannot bear to.

So, compared to what popular culture, your ‘dope’ bros, and pickup artists tell you what is the correct way to charm and date women, Hank does it completely the opposite. All of their shitty, unfounded advice is child’s play—basically “Cosmo for men” in the midst of Hank Moody’s enlightened philosophies—no matter how subconscious. They will tell you to be tough, cool, and detached; Hank remains vulnerable, childish, yet completely focused and engaged. They teach you to stay out of the friend zone, but for some reason Hank does his best work over there. Because Hank isn’t a seducer, he’s not a womanizer, he’s not sweet college bro, he’s most fucking certainly not pickup artist, and he’s not a fuckboi either. Hank isn’t any of these things and he fucking hates these archetypes with as much passion as I do. Because he’s for women, he supports them, he sticks up for them, he tries endlessly at making them happy, all because he’s loves them. And to love them is to treat them like friends. After all, wasn’t it turn-of-the-century crooner Michael Bolton who said, “How can we be lovers if we can’t be friends?”

(Takes 2 seconds)

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