I wanted to talk about new forms of masculinity seen in films/TV today and in particular relate it to the new Netflix show, Flaked, that came out a few weeks ago. I’ll be honest I’ve only seen four episodes but I feel very confident saying that I hate everything about this show. I hate the character development, the plot, the scene structure, the jokes, the tone. I hate the show. I hate the show a lot. That being said…. I wanted to explore the depiction of masculinity and it’s relationship with the female characters on the show. Why? Because it's really bad. The show stars and is co-written by Will Arnett who plays Chip, a 40-something resident of the Venice Beach area and recovering alcoholic. In the ten-episode show, we follow Chip ride his bike around Venice and eat at a lot of taco places. The center tension of the show is a love triangle between Chip, his best friend, Dennis, and the girl of both of their dreams, London. In these three characters, the show gives clear examples of modern masculinity. Chip is the suave, attractive, in shape 40-something man-child who’s troubling past makes him mysterious and supposedly irresistible. If quirky, emotional unstable girls men love to fall in love with are the Manic Pixie Dream girls of cinema than Chip is their male counter part. He’s the Misunderstood D-bag who still somehow gets all the girls. You see this kind of guy in so many films, particularly the independent film circuit. Think Ben Stiller in Greenberg, Jay Duplass’s character in Transparent. The brother in Hulu’s TV show Casual. John Stamos in Grandfathered, Rob Lowe in Grinder. Most men in Mumblecore movies like in Hump Day and My Sister’s Sister. Robert Downey Jr. has mastered this art as well in most of his films. In these examples, the male character is unlovable but only because he’s felt so unloved in the past. The women in these films are constantly asked to deal with his personality and look past his rude exterior to see his true heart underneath.
Chip’s all of those things. And his counterpart and best friend in the show, Dennis, is all the opposites. He’s awkward, nerdy, not good with the ladies and has a Dadbod. Dennis is the Seth Rogan to Chip’s James Franco. These two guys fall for London, the main female character in the show. Her personality….well, I can’t tell you much about it. Because she doesn’t seem to have one. She sort just stares at them both like a deer in the headlights, confused and oblivious. She’s defined by how she looks and how the male characters desire her. And that in a nutshell is the show, Flaked. Please, don’t watch it.