A new series on Netflix is typically followed by a flurry of reviews, dozens of think pieces, and looks ahead at the next season. There’s been little to none of that for the eight-episode series Flaked, which debuted on Netflix last Friday, and there’s a good reason for that.
It’s not a good show.
It possesses none of the magic typically associated with Netflix series, and there’s no urge to binge through episodes. In fact, it’s unlikely many will sample beyond the pilot. There’s less heat on this show than on a frozen banana. Netflix’s last adult-targeted scripted series, Love wasn’t exactly beloved, but at least it was interesting. Flaked is flat and listless and about as interesting as saltless chicken broth.
Will Arnett stars as a recovering alcoholic named Chip. He owns a store that’s struggling to stay in business; he dispenses advice to friends and neighbors in his Venice neighborhood; and he serves as an inspiration for other alcoholics who have gotten clean, only Chip is not actually clean. He sneaks drinks when no one is looking.
The central storyline, however, concerns Will’s crush on a woman named London (Ruth Kearney), with whom he developed an instant attraction. She also seems to be attracted to him. The catch, however, is that Chip’s best friend Dennis (David Sullivan) called dibs on her. The entire eight-episode narrative seems to revolve around whether Chip — who is dealing with a few personal crises — will screw over his best friend and “swoop” in and steal Ruth away from him, even though Ruth doesn’t seem all that interested in Dennis. There’s a lot of conversations like, “Are you sure you don’t like her?” “Yes, of course I don’t like her! Unless you don’t, in which case … maybe?” Chip also has a girlfriend, which complicates matters.
It’s basically a bad episode of Friends stretched out into four hours. It’s a single-camera relationship melodrama, but the writing often feels like it belongs on a multicamera series. If you’ve ever heard what a laugh-track sitcom sounds like without the laugh track, it sounds a lot like Flaked. There are a lot of empty silences and awkward pauses. It doesn’t help that Arnett is subdued throughout, like a melancholy puppy delivering shitty platitudes.
It’s uncomfortably dull, paced like molasses flowing through a stirrer straw, and completely pointless. The reason why no one is talking about it is because there’s nothing in Flaked worth talking about.