There is a great funny-sad TV series to be made from Will Arnett playing a decayed self-loathing hedonist slacking through a midlife crisis in evocative Los Angeles locations. And Netflix already made that show: Bojack Horseman season 3, coming soon! Flaked neighborhood-shifts Arnett from decadent Hollywood to bohore Venice. It’s also not animated, features no talking animals, and is powers-of-ten less realistic.
Arnett plays furniture store owner Chip, a onetime drunk living a life of perpetual recovery. Flaked opens with Chip leading a meeting, explaining his own grim backstory by way of helping other addicts struggle toward recovery. Unfortunately, in its first few episodes, Flaked is mostly about Chip struggling with all the goshdarn women who can’t stop sleeping with him. It’s Californication with more tattoos and terrible.
I love Arnett; I love the weird way he can make preening narcissism look melancholy. He has a great presence onscreen: That forehead, those wild eyes, the general ambience of Patrick Wilson gone Bizarro. But Flaked is another horrid post-Togetherness dramcom that’s too cute to be serious and too lame to be funny. In one episode, there’s a gag about sticking a finger up a dog’s butt. And how about that hipster coffee? Expensive, amiright?
Full Disclosure: To write this review, I watched the first four episodes of Flaked. They are harmless. Ruth Kearney plays a bland love interest named London, and Heather Graham pops in to play Arnett’s ludicrously successful actress ex-wife. After watching four boring and aimless episodes, I figured I had seen all the show had to offer. But it turns out there is a Big Twist later in the season which simultaneously tries to “explain” the first few episodes while also removing whatever emotional resonance the show seemed to be going for. Binge at your peril.