It’s nice to see Will Arnett flexing his dramatic muscles a little bit more in Netflix’s latest seriously-minded comedy drama, Flaked. The trouble is that his distinctive, gravelly tones will always, for me at least, be associated with the hapless eldest Bluth son, GOB. All he has to do is utter single words like ‘illusions’ or ‘mistake’ or simply ‘Michael!’ and I’m gone. But then, I’ve probably seen Arrested Development 1-3 at least 25 times through now, so…
Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz have tried to recapture that ArrDev magic elsewhere with mixed effects. Running Wilde was pretty divisive and quite forced at times, but I have to admit that I got quite a kick out of it, if only to see Peter Serafinowicz hamming it up gloriously.
Flaked is a much more serious proposition. Arnett’s character, Chip, is presented as a recovering alcoholic with tragedy in his past, his previous transgressions fuelling a desire to be a pillar of the community – someone upon whom other can depend. It’s all a facade, really, with Chip quickly being outed as a pretty self-serving individual, a charming narcissist. Chip is something of a dulled Hank Moody in a way, though somehow painted more ridiculous by Flaked’s earnest seriousness. Chip’s a ladies man, a creative fellow (though he crafts stools rather than novels), and L.A.’s Venice serves as the backdrop for both shows.
Arnett has a history of playing self-indulgent fools driven by ego. Chip and GOB share a number of similarities, though inducing belly laughing is sadly not one of them. Flaked begins as an investigative character piece but never really gives Chip (or Arnett) much to work with, and although plot points and twists start getting flung around towards the end of the season, it never really works out what story it wants to tell. The big notes are all somewhat fluffed, and the season runs out of steam ahead of a final episode that feels like it’s there simply because the writers forgot to give Chip a big speech.
It’s easy watching, mind. Arnett rocks the material in front of him and has always been able to make douchey characters somewhat likeable. There are only eight episodes, and you can probably skip the last one given how much episode seven feels like a finale.
Roll on LEGO Batman.