The weekly Netflix Pick is back! Apologies for the delay, I was on my honeymoon with my lovely wife and didn’t have a ton of time for Netflix (a real shame).
This week the Netflix Pick is yet another Netflix Original. I watch them to save you the time to see if we have Daredevil or The Ranch (ouch). Flaked, the netflix original series, feels like it would be very much at home on FX.
The series follows Chip (Will Arnett giving a stellar performance). An alcoholic in recovery who is very much into the program and always willing to help others. Chip is a likable guy that emanates every bit of Arnett’s natural charm. His likability and willingness to help others makes him very popular in the Venice CA community. Where Chip isn’t so great is in his close relationships. Keeping his friends Dennis (David Sullivan), and Cooler (George Basil) at arms reach Chip has a hard time really letting anyone in. Chip also appears very unreliable though the series reveals pieces as to why as it progresses. Treating his sort-of-girlfriend Kara (Lina Esco) with indifference Chip starts to fall for a new girl in Venice, London (Ruth Kearney).
Flaked is a slow burn. Know that going in. The Netflix format for television is intended for people to burn through more than one episode a week. When done correctly, a slower plot allows for tone, setting, and further character development. Flaked came close to losing me in the first 3-4 episodes. It isn’t bad, it just seemed to not be doing anything special. There was enough intrigue to carry me through and halfway through the season I was hooked. When the plot builds to its crescendo the pieces start falling into place. The world starts to collapse around Chip and he shows his true character and rises to the challenge. The show is called Flaked, implying Chip’s trait of being unreliable. You’ll find the assessment isn’t exactly fair.
Will Arnett is the star of the show. In marketability as well as practice. I expected a lot more of a comedy going in after Arrested Development and the phenomenal Lego Batman movie. The show has a dark-humor underlying the drama but is one of the more dramatic pieces on Arnett’s resume. Arnett rises to the challenge and really showcases his ability as an actor.
David Sullivan wasn’t familiar to me, which I am ashamed to say after checking his IMDB page. Sullivan has been in some seriously incredible movies. His featured list includes Primer and Argo. Both phenomenal. He also has 53 acting credits aside from those films. Playing second fiddle to Arnett is no easy task in this show, Sullivan was up for the challenge. He goes from sidekick to an interesting character a third of the way through the series and his annoying habits that seemed to be comic relief became endearing in a lot of ways.
Ruth Kearney is the other lynchpin in the series. At first I didn’t understand the draw to the character or her motivations. As the show escalates her role becomes crucially apparent. Her character is tragic in many traditional ways, and some untraditional ones. Kearney’s role in the show makes Flaked as strong as it is.
George Basil and Lina Esco aren’t as strong as Arnett, Sullivan, or Kearney but the two round out the supporting cast perfectly. The roles were likely written for the actor’s abilities making them feel very real and fleshed out enough despite limited screen time.
Taking place in Venice CA you’d expect the typical California subject matter. It’s all absent. The local community of Venice becomes an entity all to its own and gives the audience an intimate look beyond the glamour usually portrayed.
The way the city wants to stay is a perfect connection to the simple life Chip wants. Symmetry in storytelling is always a beautiful thing.
While the cinematography in Flaked isn’t bad, at all, it doesn’t do anything special. The soundtrack is present, maybe there is a connection to the music scene in Venice lost on me. The important thing is neither element get in the way.
The true beauty in Flaked is the way the tapestry unfurls as soon as the first string is tugged. The plotting is like the start of a roller coaster. A slow climb uphill then insanity in a sprint to the end.