A small-budget TV series that never manages to find its own pattern – Flaked Season 1 in its first installment should be its final as well.
Will Arnett’s work on Netflix’s animated series Bojack Horseman (2014-2020) 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).
What is Flaked Season 1 about?
Chip (Will Arnett) 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 (David Sullivan) tells Chip about a beautiful girl who also recently arrived – London (Ruth Kearney). 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 Season 1.
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 a bit of both honestly.
Kombucha, women and bike riding in Venice
Flaked Season 1 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 lives or claim to make them better by… screwing it even more. Yet, underneath that modern bamboozle, there’s something more curious and thought-provoking. 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.
These characters in Flaked Season 1 all live peaceful lives in an eclectic, vibrant town. However they also 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, and for reasons different than laziness.
Flaked Season 1 takes too much time to take off
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 Season 1, 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.
This chill zone of a story doesn’t encourage any deeper character development either. The character of Dennis is completely flat, and his existence in the series could be questioned outside of the introduction to London. And although David Sullivan, who plays the part, is not necessarily bad, he’s a bit transparent and derivative. George Basil, on the other hand, who stars as a half-wit homie of Chip and Dennis, is a rather forced unneeded comedy factor.
In the end, the only complex character is Chip, mainly thanks to Will Arnett’s charm.
Will Arnett saves the day in Flaked Season 1
Therefore, this Netflix series struggles to catch its own rhythm, as the protagonist’s self-centered nature grinds with his to-some-extent-altruistic actions. But Arnett’s convincingly jumps from cunning manipulation performed on his modest hipster friends, to a scene later where he spills the enhanced kombucha. Arnett owns the character, and even glimpses at a real-life version of Bojack Horseman.
It doesn’t mean that Flaked Season 1 is an elaborate look into a multi-layered character. Rather than that, it’s a TV series that is so indulged in being “cool” and” chill” that it – for the most of the time – loses depth. In the end, there is more of Chip riding a bike or people having casual conversations than the actual plot.
Flaked Season 1 – Culturally Hated or Loved?
Sunday show for the worries that won’t hit you too hard, Flaked Season 1 delivers an array of appealing shots of Venice, and praises a laidback lifestyle.
Flaked Season 1 (2016)
Hate Grade: 5/10
Creators: Will Arnett, Mark Chappell
Cast: Will Arnett, David Sullivan, George Basil, Ruth Kearney
Available at: Netflix