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Review: Anna Paquin is awfully good in 'Flack'

Amazon series follows the dark life of a messed-up publicist

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

Robyn is an awful person who helps other people get away with awful things even though deep down she feels awful about it.

“Most people lie every day. I can’t even get through breakfast without lying,” admits Robyn, played as a steely mix of efficiency and self-loathing by Anna Paquin.

Anna Paquin in "Flack."

Robyn, a high-powered publicist and fixer, is the center of “Flack,” a new Amazon series with the sort of anti-heroine bent that powered prestige shows (“The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad,” “Boardwalk Empire,” etc.) earlier this century.

She’s based in London, having moved there to be near her decent married average-person sister Ruth (Genevieve Angelson) after their apparently also-awful mother committed suicide. She spends her days covering up for closeted soccer stars, comedians who’ve crossed over a line and natural healers trying to hide plastic surgery. And worse.

Robyn has a stiletto vamp co-worker (Lydia Wilson), a bumbling fresh-faced intern (Rebecca Benson) and a terrifying boss (a delicious if underused Sophie Okonedo). She also has a boyfriend (Arinze Kene); they’re trying to get pregnant, except she’s taking birth control and having sporadic affairs. Again, awful.

There’s lots of sharp sex talk and the expected bouts of drug and alcohol indulgence. It’s all very modern and fast and snarky and fun, despite the fact that it’s also relentlessly dark. Robin worries she may have inherited the worst of her mother and that concern seems well-founded.

‘I’m trying to be better but what if I don’t actually have better in me?” Robyn asks at one point, laying out the show’s dilemma.

Eventually she gets down to the core. “We’re sacks of meat collecting shiny things to make us better than other sacks of meat,” she spills in another rant. That’s entertainment.

And actually it is. The losing struggle for redemption continues to work as valid distraction. Robyn is indeed awful, but might she rise above? Stay tuned.

'Flack'

GRADE: B

On Amazon Prime Video

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.