It’s hard to hear the name Will Arnett and distance it from his infamous character G.O.B. on Arrested Development. Excellence was the standard as his misadventures created opportune hilarity for four seasons, yet this style felt empty to Arnett. Over time, his juvenile shenanigans have slowly evolved into calculated debauchery. Enter Mark Chappell and Mitchell Hurwitz.
Both Chappell and Hurwitz have worked with Arnett over the past 15 years, with Chappell writing for The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, while Hurwitz created Arrested Development. Both styles can easily be identified as a blend of irony and cynicism. The result? A show full of intent and fresh out of comfort.
Arnett tackles alcoholism and friendship in a sobering fashion in his newest personal project Flaked (a Netflix Original). With a young and eager cast surrounding the 45-year old, Arnett intentionally misplaces himself as a middle-aged named Chip in a hip society of young alcoholics in an attempt to guide them toward self-love and independence from drinking. The intentions seem pure at first, but it doesn’t take long to realize that Chip’s first priority is clearly himself, with friends and even family taking a backseat. Tensions mount quickly between acquaintances and lovers alike due to Chip’s lack of investment in his sponsors.
As the show progresses, the tone shifts abruptly to address the horrible truths lying within Arnett’s perfectly imperfect characterization. Emotional involvement rises as secrets are revealed ever so delicately, creating an ominous uncertainty that attacks the heartstrings of the audiences vigorously and effectively.
This dark descent is a bold move for both Arnett and the rest of the writers as it tests the depths of Arnett’s acting arsenal and the emotional capacity of the audience. While Arnett’s acting is raw and re-inventive, the audience may not be ready for the twists and turn that follow the slower-than-most comedy. With a Louie-esque pace, the old saying that patience is a virtue is clearly evident when watching Flaked.
All in all, Flaked challenges the human spirit to accept the deeply flawed protagonist into our hearts in a style reminiscent of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The intentions are visibly clear both on the page and on the screen. All that’s left to do is watch.