Flaked is a Netflix Original Series created by Will Arnett and Mark Chappell that focuses on the daily life of “Chip” (Will Arnett), a recovering alcoholic, and his best friend and roommate “Dennis” (David Sullivan) in the city of Venice, California. Chip runs the local AA meetings as a method to cope with his past crime involving a drunk driving accident. Though it is labeled as a comedy, Flaked has a very naturalistic style, leading it to feel more like a drama. If you are looking for an outrageous comedy, this will not suite your needs. But, if you are looking for a deep and emotional character driven story — plop yourself on the couch, grab a friend, order a pizza, and begin this easily binge-able 8 episode series.
First Reactions & Acting
When I first saw Flaked on my Netflix feed, I figured that it would be somewhat of a goofy comedy with a sub par plot and a few hit or miss jokes, seeing as Arnett’s past works include his outrageous character of Gob Bluth on Arrested Development and the drunken pessimist, “BoJack Horseman.” I fully expected a revival of Arnett portraying a character that was “out there,” but, to my pleasant surprise, Arnett’s character is as natural as it gets.
The first episode, though at some points was a little clunky, presented a solid platform for the series. I only “liked,” not “loved,” the pilot episode, but it was enough for me to continue on with the series. When Arnett first appeared on screen, it seemed as if he wasn’t even acting, that’s how well he portrayed his character. Immediately, I had to wonder whether this was how the “real” Arnett acted, or if he really had created the personality of “Chip.” His performance was not boisterous or explosive, but that was what made it good. For the theme of the show, Arnett’s sarcastic and nonchalant attitude fits perfectly.
David Sullivan offers comedic relief sometimes when the mood gets heavy, but he also adds to the intensity when the show is at its climax. Originally, I thought that Sullivan would be portrayed as the proverbial “overweight friend”, where his presence existed only to be made fun of, but, Sullivan steals the spotlight for some of the best episodes of the series. As the series went on, I started to notice a change in the way that Dennis carried himself. This was refreshing since most secondary characters are stagnant and do not undergo many transitions.
One of the things that I absolutely loved about the show were the subtle nuances . Arnett and Chappell included small things that happen all of the time in real life that normally go unrecognized in television shows. A prime example: Chip screws up many times. His screw ups, however, are not monumental like many television shows make mistakes to be. What makes this even better is how the other characters react. After Chip had screwed up in a way that it had affected Dennis, Dennis refused to play tennis with him in spite of that event. Though it was a small event, it really gave the show a “real” feeling, which only further gripped me as a viewer.
Twists in the story are elegantly woven together in a way that surprises but does not disrupt the pacing or mood of the story, advancing the plotline rather than detracting from.
Much like Netflix’s Original Show “Bloodline,” Flaked does not expand upon crucial past events until later episodes. In my opinion, this allows the viewer to craft their own opinions about the characters, rather than having the creators force feed a generalized opinion to the audience. This also allows the reader to get a more in-depth feeling for what the character is going through, as they simultaneously are experiencing it as well.
Visuals and Music
In addition to the great acting and character development, the cinematography and soundtrack are also phenomenal. Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight Trilogy) directed four of the eight episodes, leaving his mark the way that the show was shot. Throughout the series, the camera shots and settings really match up with the mood of the scene, creating a deeper sense of emotion. The mainly “Indie” soundtrack also helps to set the mood, but they are also great to listen to on their own. Just take a look at the song “Snake in the Gravel” and you’ll see some of the expertise that has gone into making the soundtrack.
The end result is that Flaked is a show that you need to watch if you are a fan of deep, dramatic stories. Because of the way the show was written, it was apparent that the creators intended on the show being “binged” watched, or at least watched in a short time span. Just remember that if you ever have a question about the story, it will most likely be revealed at a later time.