Image via Netflix
Image via Netflix

This show is like Seinfeld in that it’s about nothing but this time they’ve really cut back on the amount of nothing there is. Like, this time it’s really about nothing. Will Arnett plays an alcoholic bum in Venice Beach who pretends to not be an alcoholic so he can pick up chicks at AA meetings. He has everybody fooled including his best friend Dennis, who thinks those Nalgenes Will Arnett drinks from are full of kombucha. Dennis is actually a former alcoholic (or maybe he’s faking too, but then his interior life doesn’t matter because this is the Will Arnett show) and is a dipshit with no job who lives at his mom’s house except his mom doesn’t live there and Will Arnett does, i.e. lives with him, but it’s cool and nohomo because there’s a guest house. Guess which one Dennis sleeps in. (It’s the guest house.) They have problems figuring out how they’re going to keep doing nothing, since Dennis’s mom wants to sell the house and make buku bucks and Will Arnett’s exwife’s dad is threatening to sell the furniture store that Will Arnett sort of runs sometimes.

This show is like the less-funny, homosocial version of Love except there’s still chicks in it and dudes who are bad at talking to them. Dennis and Will Arnett fight over this girl London passive-aggressively except it’s not even close because Will Arnett has some weird inner charm that probably comes from his being an alcoholic, or maybe it’s because he’s fucking Will Arnett. Will Arnett also gets to whine about the hookup culture a little bit, and talk about how he’s trying to keep things from getting too serious for his fuckbuddy’s sake. But really it’s probably because he’s so mysterious and wounded and alcoholic that he can’t even engage emotionally anymore. He probably just needs to meet the right girl who can make him finally grow up, to dig the diamond man out from all that rough shit. Which is the same plot of a better show (Californication) which at least had the fake writer/Bukowski imitation thing going for it.

This show is like hanging out with your friends at college except you’re just watching your friends hang out and all your friends are fortysomething hipsterbros chasing after girls who actually look like they could be in college. It’s great if you don’t have any friends and want to watch people who sort of do, or if you’ve run out of absolutely everything on Netflix and your life is even emptier than Will Arnett’s. Or you could just watch Friends.

They say the f-word a lot in this show; there are boobs and penises onscreen (but never both at the same time). So it’s got those things going for it. You could also just go to pornhub, although you might accidentally trip over a plotline there. No such danger here.

Seven out of ten trashcans. I’d watch it. I already did.

– Sam Bollen

“Flaked” is a Netflix Original in which Will Arnett plays Chip, a current alcoholic posing as a recovering alcoholic to pick up girls at A.A. meetings. He lives in Venice, Florida—a prominent aspect of the show—across from his best friend Dennis who lives in the guest house (it’s actually Dennis’s hypersexual mother’s old house). The two friends’ romantic interests seem to frequently overlap, which is all too obvious source of tension from the very beginning of the show as we are introduced to London, the communally admired new girl. These women always seem to be the object of Chip, Dennis, and even Cooler—the long-haired, mustached, obscure side character—but only later in the show do they show any complexity. There is plenty of conflict in the show, between Chip’s ex-wife’s dad’s plan to sell his furniture store, he and Dennis’s crumbling friendship, and the looming mystery that follows London, not to mention the defining emotional event of Chip’s life, that he killed a man in a drunk driving accident ten years before.

As I watched Will Arnett upturn a bottle of Pinot Noir into his Nalgene labeled “KOMBUCHI“, my iTunes must have started playing over the Netflix audio, because a Bruce Springsteen song began to play. It somehow worked better in an ironically cheerful way than what was meant to play; the show is actually scored with lazy indie rock, featuring songs from artists as varied as Youth Lagoon to Junip. But they always seem to have an over-dramatic effect, even coming across as a little tacky. Especially when every episode ends with a crescendo-ing indie tune backing Will Arnett as he gazes somberly (not to be confused with soberly).

This show is actually straight up depressing, and not in the casual way, like, “Man, that’s depressing.” Like actual, manic depression. I’m sure it has something to do with the general deceitfulness, disloyalty, and selfishness of all the characters. As the plot dilates, comedic appeal seems to become a backdrop to an increasingly soapy drama. At times when comedy does rear its ugly head, it is certainly ugly—often dark, sometimes twisted.

The dialogue is interesting—just off enough to notice it, and not in a good way. The plot is odd, too. It’s not unconventional in any sense, but definitely appropriately strange. It’s as if so much time and energy is spent building to moments in the plot that are nothing but disappointing. This “building” is off-putting as a viewer, where I find myself stuck in plot-scaffolding for a very poorly built plot-skyscraper. The not-so-subtly fitted Microsoft ads certainly don’t help.

The crown jewel in Chip’s life is his creation of the three-legged stool (Honorable Mention-winner of the 2009 So Cal Design Awards)—the essence of minimalism. This ideal in Chip’s work-life seems like it could seep into his life-life, at least I was hoping to find some crossover, but there is none to be found. He doesn’t live simply, but he doesn’t live overtly chaotically either. All I wanted from “Flaked” was a little more life and a little less reused Will Arnett

– Carson Welch

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