A small-budget TV series that never manages to find its own pattern – “Flaked” in its first installment should be its final as well.
Will Arnett’s work on Netflix’s animated series “Bojack Horseman” is beyond staggering. When I heard about “Flaked” – a tv series produced by him and also starring Arnett as the protagonist – I had high hopes for a mixture of weird sense of humor and a well-thought drama (he is Bojack Horseman after all).
Chip moves to Venice to help out people having troubles with alcohol in their lives. He tends to be resentful towards everything modern – doesn’t have a phone, neither does he drink nor smoke. In a way, he tries to maintain a clear, chill existence. Things change when his best friend Dennis tells Chip about a beautiful girl who also recently arrived – London. The new girl in town will give their friendship a hard time and reasons for a heartbeat fastened for Chip.
Here’s a picture – craft coffee shops with fair-trade coffee, well-dressed people, sunny weather and small, admirable houses. This is Venice, the setting of “Flaked”.
Once you grasp that, imagine the characters of the series – people who talk a lot about their problems, but still seem to be the most laidback guys in the states. Chip is the most chill of them all, drinking kombucha every day and riding his bike everywhere he goes. While he does that, the speakers will gently stroke you with indie ballads and mild electronic music, let’s say Owl City. Does it sound like the perfect hipster tale or a nightmare?
Well, it’s both. “Flaked” could be perceived as the ultimate hipster TV series. On the surface, it’s a show about lazy people, who either complain about their difficult life or claim to make it better by… screwing it even more. Yet, underneath that modern bamboozle, there’s something more. It’s a portrayal of a generation’s crisis. The more we get to know them – Chip, Dennis, London – the more caged they seem to be.
Even though they all live peaceful lives in an eclectic, vibrant town, characters from “Flaked” share the same kind of disturbing emptiness, that resonates in their actions and views. None of them would possibly give a reasonable answer to the infamous recruitment question – where do you see yourself in five years? Probably in the exact same spot.
Out of all that sunny-set stagnancy, Chip’s existence is probably the most tragic, but the creators of the show take an awful amount of time to unravel that part of the story. And here lies the problem. Before one could possibly get hooked on “Flaked”, most of the viewers would put a cross on it, especially after watching Chip ride his bike for the umpteenth time in the first two episodes. The tension between Dennis and Chip – the effect of London’s sudden arrival – comes and goes, but there is no clear tendency as the season proceeds.
Additionally, there are issues with acting. Dennis is a flat character, whose existence in the series could be limited to playing an obstacle in Chip’s life being absolutely stagnant. And although David Sullivan is not necessarily bad, he’s a bit transparent. George Basil as a half-wit homie of Chip and Dennis is a pretty unneeded comedy factor. In the end, the only complex character is Chip, mainly thanks to Will Arnett’s charm.
Therefore, “Flaked” never catches its own rhythm, as the protagonist’s self-centered nature grinds with his to-some-extent-altruistic actions. Chip can jump from cunning manipulation performed on his modest hipster friends, whilst a minute later spill in the sink his secretly strong kombucha, all crawled in with his stagnancy. It doesn’t mean that “Flaked” is an elaborate look into a multi-layered character. Rather than that, it’s a TV series so indulged in being “cool” and” chill” that – for the most of the time – it loses depth. In the end, there is more of Chip riding a bike or people having casual conversations about nothing than actual plot.
Flaked Season 1
Creators: Will Arnett, Mark Chappell
Cast: Well, mostly Will Arnett
Hate Grade: 5/10