By Isabel Parigi | TV | April 19, 2023 |
By Isabel Parigi | TV | April 19, 2023 |
Fans of Netflix’s hit series Outer Banks will be pleased with the streaming giant’s latest comedy-drama, Florida Man. The seven-episode limited series has all the treasure-hunting, dirt biking, and beautiful people of the teen drama, but in Florida Man, there are fewer curfews and more—very “Florida man”—stories. Central Florida might not seem like the sexiest of adventure locations, but it provides a gritty and often unpredictable backdrop for this race against time treasure hunt (and sinkholes).
According to creator and showrunner Donald Todd, a Florida native himself, the idea for the show came from his longtime fascination with the people behind “Florida man” stories (and later, the Florida man meme). As of 3:00 PM EDT on April 17, Florida man stories have ranged from a Florida man loses his leg in an attack by an alligator at an RV park to Florida man wins million-dollar prize from Publix. The show is punctuated by a series of these seemingly random everyday “Florida man” stories, as reported by the very-Orlando local news. Instead of just playing the headlines for a laugh, however, Todd uses “Florida men” to inject the somewhat fantastical action with a sense of place (to varying degrees of success).
The series follows Mike Valentine (Edgar Ramírez), an ex-cop and gambling addict, as he attempts to pay off his debt by returning to his home state of Florida to find a mobster’s runaway girlfriend. Once in Florida, Valentine cannot resist the fresh scent of Spanish treasure his family has long suspected lay around Central Florida. As he wrestles with his past, his family, local authorities, and more people begin catching wind of potential treasure.
The series introduces ideas about trauma and forgiveness on top of the bureaucratic sinkhole-fixing procedure. Although billed as Limited Series, Florida Man includes enough ditched subplots and forgotten characters for another, similarly middling, season. The show has an engaging premise and promising characters—Mike’s dad (Anthony LaPaglia) and his crew seem to have a blast as dirty-ish ex-cops—but spent so much time establishing intrigue for future seasons that it didn’t succeed in packing the punch it needed to for its first.
Edgar Ramírez gives a solid performance, effortlessly flexing his comedy chops in one scene and injecting empathy into the next. Not to mention, his performance (if nothing else) cements Ramírez as one of the great sunglasses actors of our time (joining the likes of Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) and the cast of The Matrix (1999-2003)). Abbey Lee, as Delly West, the mob boss’ runaway girlfriend and Valentine’s love interest, steals many a scene with a side eye or smirk from behind her own gigantic pair of sunglasses. Lee, however, never seems sure of how much Midwest to add to her Chicago accent and sometimes leans into something that sounds more like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn than an actual person. The Philly-based mobster at the center of the operation, Moss Yankov (Emory Cohen), is an uninteresting villain, obsessed with being taken seriously; although, I enjoyed when he sometimes dipped into a sillier NoHo Hank-esque energy (just check out his Burberry button-up). On a better note, Paul Schneider (Mark Brendanawicz from Parks and Rec) does a great job playing a local police officer, projecting his daddy issues onto the senior Valentine. Similarly, his incompetent assistant, Lacey (Candy McLellan), adds much-needed comedy to their otherwise police-station-bound investigation-heavy plot.
Florida Man will likely be forgotten, as it was dumped the same week as current Netflix hits, Beef and Transatlantic, both of which have debuted to more fanfare and acclaim; and trust me, the series is no Beef. It is, to be clear, a middle-tier adventure caper that, a decade ago, would have made a really fun early-summer action movie. Instead, the show moves slowly through its seven episodes, coming in at just under five and a half hours from start to finish.
Florida Man is a fun Edgar Ramírez vehicle, if nothing else. Otherwise, it is a five-and-a-half version of a movie like Fool’s Gold (2008), a perfectly charming-sexy-funny treasure-hunting adventure that clocks in under two hours. It is nothing groundbreaking but will make for a fun watch on a rainy day.
Florida Man is available to stream on Netflix.
Isabel is a writer based in New York. You can follow her on Substack and Twitter.