'Flaked' Joins New Wave of Addiction-Themed Comedy Series

By Valerie Tejeda 03/14/16

When handled with care, addiction-themed comedies can reduce the stigma around addiction and show recovering addicts that they are not alone.

Comedy Series Are Tackling Addiction In A Real Way
Will Arnett's new Netflix show "Flaked" intertwines addiction and comedy. photo via Shutterstock

They say laughter is the best medicine for the soul. For those who have a history of addiction, a good laugh can be especially therapeutic.

So it makes sense that comedic actor Will Arnett would draw upon his own battles with alcoholism for his new Netflix series, Flaked. The comedy, which became available on Netflix last Friday, finds Arnett as a forty-something recovering alcoholic and slacker trying to rebuild his life in a new city. The show dives right in, opening with Arnett’s character at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Flaked is a passion project for Arnett, who clearly put a lot of himself into the show. "When I see people saying 'Other shows have tackled (the subject) better,' I say, 'You can't say that it's not accurate, because it's my experience,'" Arnett told USA Today. "I'm shedding a little light on my relationship with my own sobriety, which at times has been tricky at best."

Love is another new Netflix series that portrays addiction on the small screen. Writer and executive producer Lesley Arfin, who has written for Girls and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, also melded her story of recovery into the show, which she and husband Paul Rust co-wrote together.

The biggest challenge when undertaking the topic of addiction in comedy is walking that fine line between empathetically laughing at the struggle and being plain disrespectful to addicts. Chuck Lorre, creator of the CBS sitcom, Mom—which follows a mother (Allison Janney) and daughter (Anna Faris) in recovery—admits that this balance can be a difficult one.

"The reality of somebody becoming sober and going back to getting loaded, and the jeopardy that they're in, was something we wanted to deal with," said Lorre. "Obviously the conversation is, 'How do the other people carry on? How do you make sense of that afterward?' The tragedy of that lingers. I'm hoping that the audience will allow us to take those moments and let them play without any comic overlay."

The good news is that so far, many of these addiction-themed comedies have been well received, and it seems the viewers are connecting with the shows. But the hope is that shows like these will help recovering addicts know they’re not alone.

"Real people have these kinds of embarrassing problems that don't have to be so embarrassing," said Arfin. "Maybe if we write about it on TV, then we can make it more accessible to others."

Check out the trailer for Flaked below:

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.