TV Review: ‘Flaked’

Flaked Review Will Arnett Netflix

Netflix made all eight episodes available of its new series “Flaked,” which answers the nagging question that arises while watching the first chapter of this Will Arnett vehicle, “Is this going to get any better?” The answer is: only marginally, including a few late-in-the-game twists that don’t really do much to enrich the experience. The premium TV world is a magnet for vanity projects, but few are as pointless – or unnecessary – as this one.

Already making hay with Netflix on the animated “BoJack Horseman,” Arnett co-created “Flaked” with Mark Chappell (“The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret”), and is reunited with “Arrested Development’s” Mitchell Hurwitz among its producers. But other than a very particular snapshot of the quirks associated with the beach-adjacent L.A. hamlet known as Venice, the combination has yielded a half-hour series that’s arrested primarily by its half-baked approach to comedy or drama.

Arnett plays Chip, introduced baring his soul at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he talks about having committed vehicular manslaughter, which explains why he rides a bike everywhere and thinks the universe ends at Lincoln Boulevard. The proprietor of a store that virtually no one frequents, Chip lives adjacent to his AA pal Dennis (David Sullivan), who has set his eye on a new waitress, London (Ruth Kearney), at their local eatery. Aware of Chip’s easy way with women, Dennis quickly proclaims, “I saw her first.”

For much of “Flaked,” that sort-of triangle amounts to all the tension the writing can muster, built around the male duo behaving like 13-year-old boys, where calling “dibs” on a girl makes her off-limits, regardless of her say in the matter. Gradually, the plot thickens, but never gels, to include development plans that risk uprooting Chip from his hermetically sealed sphere, prompting an opposing “SaVenice” campaign as the locals attempt to protect their off-kilter way of life.


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Netflix has demonstrated the value of binge viewing, allowing the audience to consume a serialized plot such as this in an extended four-hour gulp. But “Flaked” is such a flavorless affair that there’s scant suspense about the ongoing story, leaving little over which to get excited other than a series of guest-star-punctuated interludes, with Heather Graham as Chip’s estranged actress wife, Kirstie Alley as Dennis’ hippy-dippy mom and Annabeth Gish (briefly) as a developer.

Hardy souls who survive until episode 6 will encounter a few unexpected turns, as various secrets and lies are exposed, although they’re not especially convincing. And the ending doesn’t do much more than run out of time, which is presumably good news for those who can’t wait for Chip to hop on his bike and continue to lead this guided tour of the neighborhood.

As a small slice of L.A.-centric life, “Flaked” has a good deal in common with “Love,” Netflix’s other (and somewhat more satisfying) recently introduced half-hour. Yet one shouldn’t confuse the cultural aspects these series explore within the city as a substitute for compelling characters or fleshed-out storytelling. And frankly, the AA underpinnings are mined more effectively, for both comedy and drama, on CBS’ “Mom.”

Granted, with all the talk about production fleeing Los Angeles, it’s nice that producers have rediscovered its possibilities as a location. But except perhaps for those westside denizens who seldom venture east of La Cienega getting to see their local haunts garner a few more minutes of screen fame, too many series like “Flaked” threaten to give the town – or at least, parts of it – a bad name.

TV Review: 'Flaked'

(Series; Netflix, Fri. March 11)


Filmed in Los Angeles by Principato-Young, the Hurwitz Co. and Electus.


Executive producers, Will Arnett, Mark Chappell, Ben Silverman, Peter Principato, Mitchell Hurwitz; co-executive producer, Wally Pfister; producer, Tiffany Moore; director, Pfister; writers, Arnett, Chappell; camera, Bryce Fortner; production designer, Krista Gall; editors, Luke Doolan, Greg Tillman; music, Stephen Malkmus; casting, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Russell Scott. 32 MIN.


Will Arnett, David Sullivan, Ruth Kearney, George Basil, Robert Wisdom, Lina Esco

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  1. Randy Clark says:

    Brian Lowry answers the nagging question that arises while reading the first lines of this review vehicle, “Is this going to get any better?” The answer is: only marginally. He indulges in self witticisms that fall flat and reveal his absolute void of humor and inability to grasp it without, perhaps, a rubber chicken. Gosh, you know what? It is easier to criticize than to actually do something…

    • Linda L says:

      Yeah…it’s actually his job to criticize. He’s a critic. And he’s completely right, because the series is unbearable. It’s a sad vanity project for a 40-something year old actor trying to pretend he’s a 20-something lothario, I’m surprised Will Arnett’s big head hasn’t tipped over that bike he rides oh-so-cool-like around Venice. I live in Venice and he can ride his bike outta here to the nearest tanning salon

  2. Jake says:

    Terrible review. No appreciation for subtly.

  3. I loved this series! The underlying story of alcoholism is more important than everything else the reviewer put down about the show. Will Arnett is a wonderful actor – I had no idea!

  4. rich says:

    Great show! my office of over 100 Co workers cant wait for season 2

  5. Bailey Hernandez says:

    Flaked has a great pace to it if it more quickly came out with a second season, another quick binge to understand the same “Her?” jokes in another context. A second season to realize Claire’s character and to dramatically play out the consequences of her choices and eventually Chip’s would wrap up a quick tale from mystical Venice Beach.

  6. Jdolenz says:

    I actually loved this show. Saw all of it this weekend and can’t wait for season two. The beauty of it is the flawed hero, slowly revealing secrets, and scenes that move through dialogue.

  7. dzimas61 says:

    I couldn’t even make it through the first episode. So pathetically self-serving with hardly an an ounce of humor. Netflix seems to be desperate in building a catalog of “original” productions. Will Arnett was funny in 30 Rock but here he is insufferable.

  8. leelee says:

    Will Arnett is creepy, gross. Of course he wrote this predictable ego stroke. Another goofy-looking guy, who would never get those gals, getting those gals. Same old, same old. Boring. Want something different. If Flaked was creepy, gross, goofy-looking women chasing hot guys far too young for them, I might watch.

  9. DaveC310 says:

    I had really high hopes for this show, I’ve been seeing them filming around venice over the last six months. I’m two episodes in and I have no desire to keep watching, there’s nothing interesting or funny about it. So far it’s revolved around a girl that neither of the two main guys really know. The brunette that Will Arnette is kind’a seeing is way cuter than the blond he and his friend have a thing for. It could have been good, I like Will Arnette, but the writing just isn’t grabbing me. I can’t figure out Will’s character. He has a shop on Abbott Kinney, but doesn’t seem to do any business, he’s hardly ever there.

    • Dave is an unwitting troll says:

      That’s why you have to keep watching. It’s only 8 episodes. Clearly things get explained but apparently you only have time to start something you had high hopes for and not give it a chance, let alone finish it. Ohhh I see, you live in so-cal. Now it all makes sense to me.

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