Series Review: “Flack” is back — more celeb scandals, more scandalous PR spin

The phrase, “You look like the ghost of a Victorian prostitute” could only mean one thing.

“Downton Abbey” is BACK!

Actually, it’s the second season of “Flack,” star Anna Paquin‘s PR version of “Nurse Jackie,” a show with a drug addicted queen of poor decisions facing an unplanned pregnancy, thanks to her corrosive co-worker and closest confidante’s (Lydia Wilson) boyfriend, a fired assistant (Rebecca Benson) manipulated into a return a boss (Sophie Okonedo) taking up with an ex (Sam Neill).

And that’s just the opening salvo of personal “issues” facing this crack London “spin” firm’s crew for Season Two. Clients?

Well, the reality TV darlings have a baby, only it’s not the golfer/husband’s. Twitter has had a field day trashing this latest clumsy “The baby’s Black at birth” TV stunt.

There’s a grey-haired journalist arrested in a raid on a brothel, a tech tycoon (Daniel Kae Kim) who needs help Twitter-apologizing, and who takes a fancy to dishy mean girl Eve (Wilson), this singing star with a temper, that politician needing an image makeover.

You got the idea from season one. More of the same in season two — drama with troubled Robyn’s (Paquin) divorcing sister (Genevieve Angelson), just two Americans trying (kind of) to “pass” for natives in Swinging/Spinning London, making up lies to cover for this celeb disaster here, bribing eyewitnesses there, always with the withering, overly-polished put-downs.

“Good ol’dead-eyed, tight-lipped, draown everyone and yourrself in self-destructive self-pity Robyn.”

The cynicism is more or less intact, although the personal lives take on a more sudsy, soap operatic twist this time around.

I picked up on more self-aware, self-disclosing confessions, or what passes for confessions, with every new client or old treating their hired “flacks” (slang, which I defined when reviewing series season one) as if they’re priests or shrinks, baring their souls because no PR person would ever reveal or use their dirty secrets against them, would they?

This struck me as melodramatic and off.

A pause for a tirade against an abortion nut here, an unscrupulous billionaire instantly recognizing what a “douche” he is there — imagine Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg or Elizabeth Holmes having the self-confidence to do that — the show both has its moments and tends to grate as preachy and on-the-nose at times.

I like the ways it shows how PR has weaponized #MeToo and “bullying.” A “solution” to a troubled celeb marriage is aptly glib and heartless.

“Polyamory is actually super on-trend right now!”

And the dialogue is, first episode to last, crackling and mean. There’s “video” of a celeb assault in a bar.

“It’s bad.”

“Britney with an UMBRELLA bad?”

“Solange in an ELEVATOR bad!”

If you get the references (the links are for memory-jogging purposes only), you’re in on the joke. Occasional emotional moment aside, that’s what we’re here for — heartless, amoral and efficient people efficiently “handling” the all-too-human/often over-the-top foibles of those who pay them for that handling.

How will innocent, Scottish Melody survive this?

“Flack” isn’t necessarily great TV. More of a guilty pleasure. But it is, undeniably, great fun.

MPA Rating: TV-14, sex, drugs, profanity

Cast: Anna Paquin, Lydia Wilson, Rebecca Benson, Sam Neill, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sophie Okonedo

Credits: Created by Oliver Lansley. An Amazon release.

Running time: 12 episodes @43-53 minutes each.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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