Hank Moody is, quite frankly, a pig. He punches, lies, masturbates, and cheats his way out of whatever life throws at him. He is a perpetual disappointment to his eternal love, a terrible role model for his son and an awful influence on his daughter. His best friend masturbates in his workplace. Hank himself writes books that glorify all that is wrong with a superficial lifestyle. He is a narcissist and a pessimist. He is a hedonist in the most literal sense of the word. He is an alcoholic, a drug and sex addict, and a night owl. He is, to put it briefly, a degenerate and a burden on society. His only remotely redeeming feature is that he actually has a conscience, and, every now and then, surprises one with efforts toward self-improvement and hike up Maslow’s hierarchy.
Even though Hank Moody is someone you wouldn’t want your kids to aspire to, he isn’t the worst of all heathens tainting god’s green earth. In fact, he is really an idealist. Even after years of unabashed decadence, one finds him battling his demons at every fork. His apparently manifest vanity and misanthropy are poorly disguised defense mechanisms against his more serious issue that many writers face; a pathologically low sense of self-worth. It seems unbelievable but one will find him take the blame on a persistent basis. However, due to his charm and a way with words, one only gets brief glimpses, not long enough for making note of Hank’s perceived self-worthlessness.
His inferiority complex stems from his realistic view of the world. He identifies humanity for what it is; a misguided collection of bags of cells, each with its own expiration date and each lacking any element that transcends earthly vows once this all-to-ephemeral window of consciousness comes to a dull conclusion. This view of life gives him a license to oscillate between pessimism and debauchery, each cycle ending with him drowning his sorrows in, to paraphrase Moody himself, a river of booze and female bodily fluids.
A chasm of biblical proportions between his perception and aspiration is also of major significance in his role as a parent. Hank wants, for his daughter, the opposite of what he finds in unfortunate women involved in his ill-fated dalliances. He doesn’t want his daughter to have low self-esteem. He wants her to consider her body sacred and her mind as her most prized possession. He doesn’t want her to lead a reckless lifestyle. In a way, he doesn’t want her to live his life. Yet his past exploits never leave him.
He has developed bad habits that conflict with the fatherly image he desires to broadcast. His daughter, therefore, doesn’t heed his advice. To paraphrase her words, he can’t seem to get his act together. With every passing moment, she becomes, to the utmost horror of Hank, more and more like her father.
Even though Hank fails as a father, it’s not entirely his fault. His profession is partly to blame. Writing is hard. If one tries to produce anything of substantial literary value, one suffers in equal proportion. Creativity takes toll on one’s psyche and one loses control. Either one goes mad or one travels down the road of unmitigated lasciviousness. One suffers from bouts of cycles of depression and elation. In worst cases, one even hallucinates.
Furthermore, without a nine to five existence, Hank lacks structure. Without structure, he is not a certain kind of human being. He doesn’t cozily fit into preconceived mental frameworks. Therefore, he has a penchant for surprising others, and not in a positive way. Subsequently, others cannot rely on him.
Even though absence of structure, low self-esteem and unfortunate choice of profession play significant roles, one must consider the city he lives in. Everyone knows that one doesn’t move to L.A. to get one’s act together. One certainly doesn’t raise a girl there. The whirlwind of circumstances has imprisoned him in a world of fake-perfection. In a realm where physical appearance is valued more than moral equilibrium, a self-reflective and truth-seeking man such as Hank Moody is bound to destroy himself and those he loves.