How Californication Slyly Poked Fun At David Duchovny's X-Files Past

David Duchovny starred as Hank Moody on Californication after The X-Files ended, but the former show still took the time to slyly reference Duchovny's past sci-fi hit. While he'd been a steadily working actor in Hollywood before landing the role of Fox Mulder - most notably on Twin Peaks, but he also appeared in the family film Beethoven - it was his role as an investigator in The X-Files that definitively made him a star. Duchovny seems to be fully cognizant of that fact too, as he never hesitates to express his gratitude for the success the role gave him.

While not the genre-defining phenomenon that The X-Files was, Californication was Duchovny's next regular TV gig after his original run as  X-Files' fictional FBI agent Fox Mulder ended, and it managed to last a whole seven seasons. A decidedly adults-only comedy, Californication cast Duchovny as alcoholic writer Hank Moody, a man quite the opposite of Mulder. Hank is incredibly self-destructive, and whenever he seems to be getting his life together, he usually manages to self-sabotage his momentum.

Related: The X-Files' Connection To The Law & Order Universe Explained

As far away from Mulder as Hank Moody was though, that doesn't mean Duchovny and Californication's writers didn't gladly take the opportunity to poke fun at his history chasing down the paranormal alongside Dana Scully. In Californication's season 4 finale, "The Trial," Hank finds himself headed to court - complete with a lawyer played by Carla Gugino - to face a charge of statutory rape, after sleeping with a 16-year-old girl he thought to be of age. When getting ready to leave, Hank is uncharacteristically wearing a nice suit and looks much more clean cut than usual. His ex, Karen, steps in to tell him he looks good, to which Hank responds, "I look like a f***ing FBI agent."

As this happens, Mulder is looking into a mirror, and the angle he's at almost suggests a sort of wink at the audience. To further the Mulder allusion, Karen says Hank looks like a "brooding and comely FBI agent," words which many X-Files devotees may have likely used to refer to Duchovny's character. Even further down the rabbit hole, the "brooding and comely" bit is also a reference to the humorous Bree Sharp song "David Duchovny, Why Won't You Love Me?" Unfortunately for Hank, the court case doesn't go his way, as it's proven he had met the girl previously, though he didn't remember it due to being drunk. Still, the judge recognized that Hank wasn't a predator and let him off with probation.

The best part about a reference like this is that it makes perfect sense in context, even without prior knowledge of Duchovny's career. For X-Files viewers, it's a fun nod to the past. For anyone who's never watched The X-Files, it just seems like Hank unleashing his usual foul-mouthed wit. While Californication acknowledged The X-Files, the references never went beyond this. Duchovny's former co-star Gillian Anderson very much wanted to guest star as one of Hank's flings, but Duchovny nixed Anderson's Californication cameo due to concerns about how it might change how people see Mulder and Scully.

More: X-Files Theory: Mulder & Scully's Field Trip Never Ended



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