With the popular animated comedy series BoJack Horseman under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Will Arnett would find himself reuniting with Netflix for his new series Flaked. In it, he stars as Chip, a self-help guru who killed a young man in a drunk driving accident 10 years ago. Since then, he has found himself stuck in the same stool manufacturing store in Venice, California alongside personal friend Dennis (David Sullivan). However, both of their lives take an unexpected shift when a mysterious woman named London (Ruth Kearney) enters their lives looking to rent the apartment above the stool store. With Chip’s persistent lying, Dennis’ own nervous habits and the suspicious past behind London’s random appearance, only time will tell what this spells out for the trio just trying to survive their bumpy lives.
Flaked is a bit of a series oddball, as in it’s trying to be more than what it actually is. Within it, Flaked contains a good amount of laughs and dramatic moments that spell out a decently entertaining series, but it keeps attempting to portray said dramatic moments like these deep, intertwining powerful messages when they never truly hit their mark. It’s like something you should just be able to turn your brain off to, but the show keeps trying to turn your brain back on when striving in serious territory. The good news is that there are some genuinely good twists here and there to keep said drama entertaining enough. It doesn’t make the show anything deeply perceptive or intelligent, but its enough to be a passably enjoyable time.
One of the biggest highlights of Flaked is Arnett himself. As always, his presence on screen commands the entire scene, and the series does well to service his talent outside comedic shows and films. Sure, there are still funny moments thrown about here and there, but the series is first and foremost a drama, and Arnett manages to shine the brightest through it all. The character of Dennis feels like a nice addition to the show, even if Arnett and Sullivan never truly find their chemistry with one another. The situations they get into together do help bring about their individual characteristics separately, but never do they grow as a pair. However, there are a good chunk of laughs that arise from the tribulations of these characters, whether its dealing with Dennis’ cougar mother or Chip’s ex-wife, and these situations help make the show what it truly is, a competent dramedy.
What truly does hurt this program, on the other hand, is how little Flaked tries to do with the universe it is given. We rarely ever see Chip trying to help other alcoholics get through their rough patches, which begs the question why they decided to appoint him as a help guru in the first place. The back story he’s been given is truly heartbreaking, so it would have been a lot nicer if the show tried to use said back story to its benefit; especially considering how deeply it wants to be a heavy drama. In addition, the budding romance between Chip and London never definitively feels authentic, as we aren’t given nearly enough time for the chemistry to feel natural. This, in turn, leads to London’s past finally coming to fruition, and while there are some great turns in the narrative that stem from her story, it also gravely hurts the romance between these two characters. Let’s just say that once her reason for appearing out of nowhere is revealed, you just might be screaming at the screen “Are you insane woman!?”
To some, Flaked may end up just coming off as a bit pretentious. The first two episodes feel a bit messy and directionless, but as the series rolls again, it does start to smooth itself over with interesting dramatic points. It never really reaches the stardom it has set out for, but I feel Arnett should still be proud of this little project he’s created in between seasons of BoJack Horseman. With the end of the season, you’ll realize Flaked is not nearly as deep or profound as it desperately wants to be, but there’s just enough of a decent blend in humor and drama to make it a satisfactory diversion.