WHEN | WHERE Starts streaming Friday on Netflix
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Chip (Will Arnett) is a semi-recovering alcoholic who lives in Venice, California, hangs out with his best friend, Dennis (David Sullivan), has a beautiful girlfriend, Kara (Lina Esco), and suddenly falls hard for someone Dennis has his eye on, London (Ruth Kearney), a waitress at a local restaurant.
MY SAY The big star and arguably the big draw of “Flaked” is Venice, which is one solid square mile of undiluted, undisputed counterculture that also happens to be coddled by some of the most outsized real estate prices in all of California. Venice looks scruffy and charming. Venice is scruffy and charming. But it’s also prohibitively expensive, so — barring the would-be hippie with a trust fund — this community tends to be inhabited by those who have been here a long time and have no intention of uprooting. (To go where? Santa Monica? That overrun tourist trap to the north of Interstate 10?)
So Venice can also be provincial, protective and precious — and it’s also especially hard in “Flaked” to tell where Venice ends and Chip begins. This series is really about how a community imprints itself on the psyche, and how its rhythms or pretensions may confer identity, but also about how they can suppress identity, or possibly (in Chip’s case) healing.
“Flaked” obviously loves Venice, but is also a little wary of Venice, and a little scornful, too. The same can be said of its characters, beginning with Chip, who is self-delusional, self-medicating, self-absorbed and self-loathing. “Flaked” starts off by telling a terrible story about the protagonist — how he says he killed someone when he was drunk behind the wheel years before — and obviously needs to spend the rest of the series pulling him out of this hole, if that’s even possible.
Anyone coming to this looking for Arnett’s “Arrested Development” character Gob Bluth or even BoJack Horseman will be bitterly disappointed. But they might find someone — and especially some place — even more interesting. Arnett is quite good here, and Venice especially well-drawn, occasionally even beautifully drawn. It’s just hard to fall in love with either.
BOTTOM LINE A good portrait of a fallen man and the place he has fallen into. Promising — but also frustrating.