Mar 18

“Flaked”: In Which a Liar Passes As “Authentic”

One step forward. Twelve steps back. Tagline for Flaked

I’m so confused these days by some of the public’s perception of authenticity. Whereas I’d thought it meant to be true or real, it seems others think it means to lie pathologically. Case in point: the too-widespread perception among potential voters that Donald Trump is “authentic.”

Rather than engage in an argument about the state of politics and particular participants, though, I’m going to provide a summary of reviews about a certain new lying-centric Netflix series that most smart critics deem not worth supporting. (Yes, I’m going for a metaphor here.)

Dennis Perkins, AV Club, sets up the premise of Flaked, starring Will Arnett as a “complete phony” (Willa Paskin, Slate):

Speaking at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Arnett’s Chip speaks with wry sincerity about the fatal drunk driving accident that changed his life—and ended someone else’s—10 year’s earlier, that signature mellifluous growl urging his fellow attendees to follow his example. The receptive Venice, California audience nods and watches his practiced performance with understanding, receptive eyes as Chip confesses, ‘It taught me to be humble, to be honest. To be brutally humble. About who I am and what I’ve done,’ before he concludes, ‘life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards.’

Perkins explains Chip further: “[His] rehearsed AA glad-handing…is only ever seen in service of his own agenda—usually either getting laid or extricating himself from relationships after having done so.”

Alyssa Sage, Variety, calls Chip “a habitual liar and self-proclaimed guru who’s straining to maintain his sobriety while attempting to sustain friendships and remain a step ahead of his tangled web of ongoing lies.”

Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter: “‘You’ve got a serious platitude problem,’ Chip’s buddy Dennis (David Sullivan) tells him, but everywhere Chip goes in Venice, bikini babes coo his name and look to him for glum, empty wisdom.”

But Chip’s not the only one with an authenticity problem, states Fienberg. “The characters all have trouble telling the truth to each other or themselves, so they’re all harboring secrets and those secrets are what’s likely to keep viewers curious, even though a straightforward conversation in five minutes of the pilot could tell us everything we need to know.”

Among the plot lines is a competition between the two male besties for one particular woman. Brian Lowry, Variety, “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.”

Lying, self-serving agendas, immaturity, sexism. Hmm…don’t know about you, but I think I’ve seen enough of that lately.