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'Flack' is Enjoyable to Watch – And Anna Paquin's Character Could be Helpful to Some Famous Folks Right Now
February 21, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 

Because Pop TV has carved a niche with light comedies and fun soaps, some viewers might be surprised at the undercurrent of intensity in its new dramedy Flack.

Surprised in a good way. Flack, a Brit production that launches on Pop Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, amuses us with its total over-the-top lack of subtlety while simultaneously reminding us about the dark side of fun.

Flack stars Anna Paquin (top) as Robyn, an American working for a celebrity PR firm in London. Like many PR firms with expensive, high-profile clients, this one specializes in damage control, making sure those valuable reputations aren’t tarnished by anything as troubling as, say, the truth.

Paquin, never dull on screen, makes Robyn ruthlessly good at her job, with all the bloodlessness and amorality that entails.

We see, from the opening scenes, how hard she works to maintain a mask of total confident control. Her clients never see a scintilla of doubt. They never fear for a microsecond that she will be unable to steer their careening vehicle back onto the road. That’s why they pay the big bucks to Robyn’s boss Caroline (Sophie Okonedo) and why Caroline puts Robyn on her toughest cases.

Unlike Caroline, or the clients, we also see the toll this takes on Robyn, whose personal life is as tattered as the life of any client. She just doesn’t have a personal image to protect.

She’s a tragedy waiting to happen, and while we’re pretty sure it won’t, Flack does leave that cloud in the sky, never completely out of sight.

The characters in Flack, Robyn included, are familiar. They’ve populated virtually every TV and movie soap involving the rich and entitled.

Even the mid-level workers at Caroline’s firm have the attitude down. They treat the rest of the world as barely tolerable and certainly not fit to be in their company.

Robyn’s new intern Melody (Rebecca Benson, top) is the blindsided twin of Anne Hathaway’s naïve office assistant from The Devil Wears Prada, walking into a world where suddenly everything about her is so wrong she’s barely worth scorning.

Robyn’s coworker Eve (Lydia Wilson, top) overcomes stiff competition to emerge as the show’s quintessential millennial, blissfully in love with herself.

Robyn’s sister Ruth (Genevieve Angelson), with whom Robyn seems to be permanently crashing, channels Kristen Bell’s Eleanor from The Good Place – if you can imagine Eleanor with a husband and a young daughter.

Angelson is good enough, so she threatens to steal most of the scenes in which she appears. She’s quick and funny, though, like Robyn, Ruth also lugs around some significant baggage.

The men aren’t ciphers, but they’re less interesting than the women, which makes it unsurprising that Robyn gets to call out the piggish behavior of her clients in particular and men in general.

Just to keep things interesting, she can follow one of those beatdowns by wondering why her target doesn’t find her more attractive.

Like we were saying, Flack is mostly a comedy.

Plot-wise, Flack reinforces everything most of us suspect about the celebrity and PR industries. It’s not that everything that trickles out to the rest of us is a lie. It’s more that what trickles out has often been vetted, tweaked and polished.

Robyn, being in the middle of that world and wielding one of its most sought-after polishing cloths, sometimes has some trouble at the end of the day figuring out exactly what she has accomplished.

She’s done her job and been well compensated for it. Her mind is sharp. She knows the angles. She understands human nature. She’s cool in a crisis. It’s a challenge, it’s exciting, it’s full of excess and absurdity that’s fun to watch.

And then, at the end of one apparently typical adventure, she comes home and says she’s going to take a shower “to wash the day off.”

Told you it was a soap. But that’s the part of the mission that can ultimately keep us watching.

 
 
 
 
 
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