Flaked: Like A More Jank Version of Californication–In A Good Way

As Netflix keeps the barrage of original series coming, Flaked is one that has come to the website with little fanfare, lacking the same level of promotion as, say, Jessica Jones. Starring Will Arnett–the actor who best describes the concept of someone you love to hate–as Chip, a sort of honorary mayor of Venice (California, because L.A. is where all Netflix shows seem to take place now), Flaked was probably pitched as Californication meets Gob Bluth in Venice. Because that just about sums up the concept.

That being said, there are plenty of plot points and character foibles to sustain interest for the entirety of the eight-episode first season. From the get-go, we’re let in on Chip’s best kept secret: he’s a “recovered” alcoholic who drinks red wine from a thermos labeled kombucha whenever the mood strikes him. His best friend/more than occasional frenemy, Dennis (David Sullivan), drives much of Chip’s motivation in life–primarily the motivation to pursue women that Dennis is interested in. After he does so with a fellow recovering addict named Kara (Lina Esco), Dennis forgives him and tries to move on to a waitress named London (Ruth Kearney)–so we think–at one of the restaurants they frequent.

Unfortunately for Dennis, the moment he mentions his interest in London, Chip can’t help but want to present himself with the challenge of attracting her attention. Surprisingly, however, it doesn’t seem to work right away in the manner that it usually does for him–that is, until Dennis invites Chip and London to come with him to Palm Springs to pay a visit to his mother, Jackie (Kirstie Alley), a cougar, of sorts, that has wrought most of the emotional damage Dennis suffers from (ten years earlier, he, too, was an alcoholic who had to go to rehab). For most of his life, in fact, he’s had to contend with her penchant for getting him to dump her boyfriends for her. And although he thinks things are going well enough with London, the distraction of dealing with his mother allows Chip to swoop in on the mysterious blonde, even though we later learn that it is she who is doing the real swooping. It is also in the episode, “Palms,” that Chip admits to London that he killed a man while drunk driving.

This tale of his–one that he relishes telling in AA and seemingly any other public venue–becomes a core aspect of his false identity. Ultimately, however, the story hinges on his ex-wife/still wife, Tilly (Heather Graham), who he must consult with multiple times in order to salvage the building he houses a furniture store in (specializing in stools). Owned by stoner/Tilly’s father, Jerry (Mark Boone Junior), Chip is subject to his mercy when he gets a four million dollar offer to sell the building. Along the way, in order to sustain what he considers a key part of his identity, Chip enlists the help of Topher (Christopher Mintz-Plasse a.k.a. McLovin a.k.a. looking a bit wizened since Superbad), a millionaire/billionaire tech guy who asks Chip to sponsor him in AA. It is Mintz-Plasse’s ability to accurately project the grotesque neb who thinks everything and anyone can be bought that serves as one of the more interesting sub-plots of Flaked.

But when Topher tries to make a deal with Chip that involves giving him the money for the building in exchange for London herself, Chip shows a rare moment of integrity by telling Topher to back off, conveniently right when London is in earshot.

Although Chip (no last name apparently; maybe because Chip in and of itself is a douche bag enough moniker to suffice) is a pale shadow of Hank Moody-level dysfunction, the end of season one seems to infer that this is only the beginning of Chip’s sociopathy. And, if you’ll let him, maybe, just maybe, he’ll outshine Venice’s other TV bad boy.