When I first heard that Netflix was releasing a new original series, I was excited – after all, there’s nothing better than a new show to binge watch when I should really be working on my dissertation. Will Arnett’s outstanding performance in Arrested Development led me to think that a show that he not only stars in, but had also produced, would be a hit. And as much as I hate to admit it, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The show starts off with a promising premise: a recovering alcoholic living in Venice, California acting as a self-help guru not only in his AA meetings but for his friends, too. The series calls itself a comedy, but unfortunately I found myself cringing a lot more than laughing – the sheer amount of awkward pauses and silences is enough to make anyone uncomfortable. It is slow moving to the point where nothing really happens, and you find yourself wondering where it is even going. To make matters worse, Will Arnett’s character is so incredibly subdued that the performance becomes almost melancholy, adding to the overall dullness of the plot. And whilst I love a good anti-hero in a series, Chip is too unlikeable to pull off the love-hate dynamic that we are expected to feel. He claims to have quit drinking, yet sneaks drinks from a ‘kombucha’ labeled jar when no one is looking; he claims to not have a crush on his friend’s love interest, yet his actions tell us the opposite. He is supposedly the ‘cool’ guy, with women swooning over him and men coming to him for his wisdom – and it is hard to believe that a 40-something year old alcoholic who owns a stool shop would realistically have that effect on people.
Halfway through the season, Flaked becomes a will-they-won’t-they melodrama – Chip’s inability to admit his feelings to himself or anyone around him prevents him and London (the friend’s love interest) from getting together. This type of pseudo love triangle has been done time and time again, and this series is unable to put an exciting twist on it that would keep us glued to the screen. In fact, I had given up on the show by episode 4 – and that’s after a lot of self-convincing that it might just get better if I get more into it. The show seems to be consistently trying too hard, with awkward plot twists overcomplicating a simplistic plot line to no dramatic effect.
After a number of insanely successful originals, for once Netflix just misses the spot. It appears that the critics have been left underwhelmed too – the show was met with a number of negative reviews and a lack of the typical uproar that usually follows Netflix’s new releases. It seems like the show will be short-lived, but here’s hoping that Netflix gets back on track and brings us more good shows in the future.
Image courtesy of Netflix.