‘White Famous’ Review: Jay Pharoah’s ‘Californication’ Knock-Off Is Shallower and Less Funny

IndieWire | 10/12/2017 | Staff
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“Californication,” the David Duchovny-led Showtime comedy that ran for seven seasons (yes, seven) in the early aughts, had enough flaws that no one should want to copy it. For one, it may have been the last “woe-is-me rich white man” story to sneak in under the cultural cut-off point, and even Duchovny’s considerable charms couldn’t get it an extension past Season 4. Then there was the casual objectification of women (despite Hank Moody’s knightly intentions), rehashed romantic arcs, and truly awful supporting characters.

“White Famous” fixes the first problem by focusing on an up-and-coming black actor (played by Jay Pharoah), but brings in a slew of new ones, all while creating a carbon copy of “Californication” that’s as flat as Duchovny’s abs and half as interesting. Tom Kapinos’ new Showtime comedy is almost exactly like his old one, except Pharoah’s Floyd Mooney isn’t stuck in a city he hates out of love for his family; he’s stuck falling **** backwards into money and won’t stop complaining about it.

Look - List - Similarities

Just take a look at this astounding list of similarities:

Hank Moody is played by David Duchovny.

Floyd - Mooney - Jay - Pharoah

Floyd Mooney is played by Jay Pharoah.

Hank’s happy place is New York, but his family forces him to move to L.A.

Floyd - Place - Comedy - Family - Kind

Floyd’s happy place is stand-up comedy, but his family (kind of) forces him into acting.

Hank has a kid with Karen (Natasha McElhone), a woman he’s still close with, but they’re separated.

Floyd - Kid - Sadie - Cleopatra - Coleman

Floyd has a kid with Sadie (Cleopatra Coleman), a woman he’s close with, but they’re separated.

Hank has an incredibly inappropriate agent named Charlie (Evan Handler) who makes him look like an upstanding father.

Floyd - Agent - Malcolm - Utkarsh - Ambudkar

Floyd has an incredibly inappropriate agent named Malcolm (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who makes him look like less of a creep.

Hank loves something pure and simple: writing books.

Floyd - Something - Pure - People

Floyd loves something pure and simple: making people laugh.

Hank sleeps around a...
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