It is hard to imagine Will Arnett playing any other character than the imbecile. He did it so well as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development, and he has since built an entire career on that character archetype. He once said the reason he got into comedy in the first place, was because his attempts at dramatic acting were met with laughter anyway, so why not go with it. But a decade after Arrested Development got cancelled, it was high time for Arnett to jump back into the dramatic deep end, and he has done just that with Netflix’s new dramedy Flaked.
The first act of Flaked comes off like a watered down version of Californication. Arnett plays a recovering alcoholic, living a romanticized deadbeat lifestyle in Venice Beach. He is an easy going ladies’ man, and everyone’s best friend. He has a smooth line for every situation. But the show is much more than it appears on the surface. There is a deeper, darker side to both Arnett’s character, and the seemingly directionless storylines that are first introduced. You need to let this show grow on you, as it might not catch you right from the get go.
Whatever reservations you will most likely have seeing Arnett play a (semi) serious character, you won’t have the same issues with the supporting cast. All of them absolutely nail their parts. David Sullivan plays the role of Arnett’s bumbling best friend, Ruth Kearney plays his main love interest, Robert Wisdom is cast as the wise friend (maybe there is something to this changing your last name business, after all), and veteran actress Heather Graham brings some gravitas to the show in her role as Arnett’s ex-wife. As for Arnett himself, after the initial shock of seeing him deliver sincere lines that are actually meant to be taken sincerely, he does eventually win you over, and makes it easy to buy into, and even sympathize with his character.
Flaked is best categorized as a slow burner, with each passing episode adding new layers to the previously surface level only interactions. You can’t fully appreciate the nuance of the show until all of the cards have been laid out on the table. It isn’t perfect, and it might take some time to get used to Arnett in this new type of role, but the payoff is worth it in the end. I’ll give Flaked 4 out of 5 stars, and definitely recommend that you give it a shot, if you haven’t already.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)