With no advertisements, Netflix original series tend to have episode lengths around a third of the time longer than those on broadcast TV. Some, such as “Arrested Development” and “Love,” have struggled with this format, feeling bloated at half an hour. “Flaked,” the new show created by and starring Will Arnett, uses this run time to create a sense of leisure. The show simply follows Chip (Arnett) and his friends on their daily adventures, going through all of the many digressions that take up the bulk of their lives.
Chip resembles other characters Arnett has played on “Arrested Development” and “Up All Night,” but is much more humane. He is a recovering alcoholic, who killed someone in a drunk driving accident 10 years ago. Now he is a half-hearted life coach. At times Chip shows real concern for his clients, counseling them firmly but compassionately when they seem to be in danger. At other times Chip’s self-interest rules, as when he runs elaborate schemes to manipulate women he likes. Arnett handles Chip’s contradictions very well. He’s like Gob Bluth — Arnett’s role on “Arrested Development — trying to act like his moral brother Michael Bluth.
The Venice Beach setting is a perfect match for the laidback pace of the show. It has an easy, calm feel that contrasts well with the high-strung characters. So many of them are looking to find a more peaceful life in this beach town. As the show goes on, the rapid gentrification becomes a key part of the show’s plot.
“Flaked” includes several different styles of comedy, primarily the farcical style of “Arrested Development” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” In “Flaked”, the jokes center around the schemes that Chip and his friends concoct. One especially funny example is when Chip’s friend Dennis, played by David Sullivan, reads an entire, 1,000 page biography of Frida Kahlo for date conversation topics. This fails when Chip meets her by accident, only to charm her with a few quotes about Kahlo that Dennis had mentioned to him. The show is full of great, classic-style sitcom banter. Arnett’s experience in comedy has honed his comedic timing to a T.
The show, with it’s slow pace, California setting and cast of deadbeats, is reminiscent of “Inherent Vice,” “The Big Lebowski” and “The Long Goodbye.” Although these are major works of film while “Flaked” is only a small, pleasant show, the resemblance is strong. At a time when many shows are being rebooted, “Flaked” takes its place as an original, above-average part of the TV landscape.
“Flaked” is currently streaming on Netflix.
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