'Flack' episode 1: The Anna Paquin starrer pits the illusion of fame against its grim reality

'Flack' is about celebrity scandal fixers, and how they navigate through the mess that their clients make while dealing with complications in their personal relationships


                            'Flack' episode 1: The Anna Paquin starrer pits the illusion of fame against its grim reality

'Flack', the Anna Paquin starrer which premieres on May 21 on Pop TV, is a show about celebrity PR handlers and looks deep into the cutthroat world of crisis management for the crème de la crème of London.

Anna as Robyn plays the guru of all crisis strategists and in the first episode, she will have you believe that she is in control of everything. She can lie through her truth, fake her smile like a pro and handle philandering husbands like no one's business. Like her boss, Caroline (Sophie Okonedo) says, she is the best they have!

 



 

 

The show also throws in a husband who takes care of the kids while the wife is off to work because it's his day off. It's a show about working women, so of course, there needs to be a husband who would share responsibilities. On the surface, it looks like a perfect family that has been together for a long time and they understand each other. Robyn's sister knows her sister is lying, but she doesn't want to acknowledge it. She is happy throwing barbs at Robyn for smelling like a stripper and dressing up like a prostitute. Then the two walk to the bridge and throw a flower in remembrance of their mother who committed suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and that's when the cracks begin to appear.

The show is fuelled by these cracks. It is slow to appear, mostly in fits and starts and is quick to disappear in the face of a crisis, or as Robyn would prefer it, challenges that must be handled. But they are present. 

A still of Anna Paquin as Robyn and Genevieve Angelson as Ruth in 'Flack'. (Source: Pop TV)
A still of Anna Paquin as Robyn and Genevieve Angelson as Ruth in 'Flack'. (Source: Pop TV)

 

The first episode of 'Flack' succeeds in letting us know that the show is about making sure that thousands of people who worship celebrities don't have their bubbles burst by coming face to face with the reality of celebrity life.

As Caroline says in reference to a celebrity chef, his myriad human flaws (read cheating on his wife) shouldn't affect the business with a 21 billion pound turnover. For instance, Mr. Henderson (Max Beesly) is a celebrity chef, whose cookbooks are lined in every woman's kitchen.

He is a devoted father and husband on the surface, but underneath, he tries to "screw" everyone, including his publicists. It doesn't take long for you to figure out who this character is based on, really. But that is just a cheeky joke on the writer Oliver Lansley's part.

In fact, the most interesting part about the series so far is not the crises, or the celebrities themselves, but the way Robyn deals with it. She is on her way to becoming a drug addict while being self-destructive and combats self-doubt too. There is a monologue in the episode, where Robyn speaks about why women who are calling out predatory men are different from entitled men, who think it is not fair for their entire career to go down the drain because 'one disgruntled account of a one-night stand' is entertaining. But what deserves applause is her empathizing with a man over one truth, because she is so used to the lies and the deception in her life. 

Robyn, Melody and Eve in a still from the show 'Flack'. (Source: Pop TV)
Robyn, Melody and Eve in a still from the show 'Flack'. (Source: Pop TV)

 

As the lead of the show, we see a lot of Robyn but the other women are equally interesting. There is Eve (Lydia Wilson), who is rich and has very little understanding of what goes on beyond her world. Her taste in men is unapologetically shallow and she has no qualms about ordering the new intern around to get her work done. We also have Melody (Rebecca Benson), who has got the 'headless chicken' act pat down. Caroline as the boss with eccentric tastes is tough and ruthless. But at this point, her character is more like a caricature that is present to entertain you. Robyn's sister, on the other hand, could be considered the one person who settles Robyn down with her not too loud characteristics.

The first episode sets up the show to look like 'Flack' is Robyn's play area. She does things and expects to get away with them because she is a fixer who pulls strings for everybody else and expects to be able to do the same for herself. She tells herself that she is fine, and when her friends ask her if everything is fine, she replies, "Peachy".  She doesn't feel guilty about her actions, initially, but as the episode concludes you see a lot of potential in the show. More than it being about scandal-fixing and celebrity mishaps, it is about self-realization.

Catch 'Flack' as it premieres on May 21 at 10|9 C on Pop TV.