'Flaked': Will Arnett Cycles Through a Low-Key Comedy

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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In Flaked, Will Arnett plays a guy who hasn’t exactly lived up to his early promise: Unshaven in Venice, California, Arnett’s Chip bicycles to work in a storefront where he makes three-legged stools. As you might imagine, it’s a rather low-income career. A big chunk of his time is spent at AA meetings, where he continues to be haunted by a drunk-driving death he caused a decade ago. At this point, I probably need to remind you that Flaked is a comedy.

Created by Arnett and Mark Chappell, who co-wrote all the episodes, Flaked premieres on Netflix Friday, and it has a way more laid-back vibe than Arnett’s other two Netflix showcases, the antic cartoon BoJack Horseman and the saved-from-cancellation Arrested Development (that show’s creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, is a co-producer of Flaked).

But it doesn’t do much good to compare Flaked with those other shows — you’ll either connect with its mellow vibe or not. The series doesn’t have much in the way of punchlines — it’s a sitcom in which the situation is more prominent than the comedy. Chip lives across from his buddy Dennis (David Sullivan) and the two of them are attracted to a new girl in town, London (Ruth Kearney) — this, despite the fact that Chip is involved with Kara (Lina Esco), a musician he met in AA. (Chip’s sponsor in sobriety is a cop played by Robert Wisdom — Bunny Colvin from The Wire.)

There are romantic entanglements, and Chip hasn’t quite extricated himself from his ex-wife, played by Heather Graham. His sobriety is also proving to be a struggle. He does drink a lot of coffee, though, which he gets from a high-end Venice joint called Free Coffee — you can write your own laugh-lines from the confusion that predictably ensues when the barista says, “Two Free Coffees!” and Chip hesitates, wondering if the coffee is free, or… well, you get the idea.

I locked into Flaked’s easy-going groove pretty quickly, and haven’t minded spending quite a few half-hours with Chip and his problems. If you’re willing to go along with the show’s carefully conceived aimlessness, it has the pull of a book of inter-connected short stories.

Flaked streams on Netflix starting Friday.