Can anyone flip a house? Kaitlin Olson and Will Forte prove that, with a little bit of monetary help, anything is possible in “Flipped,” Quibi’s first comedy series. While Quibi promises “Quick Bites and Big Stories,” “Flipped” comes off particularly small and low energy. The cast makes for an enjoyable, quick watch. However, this quick bite wasn’t enough of an appetizer, much less a meal.
It’s clear from the first quick bite that Jann (Will Forte) and Cricket (Kaitlin Olson) Melfi are odd birds. They are both fired from their jobs – a high school drama teacher and hardware store associate, respectively. Dejected and blindsided, the two turn to TV for comfort. More specifically, they watch a show about flipping houses, hosted by a picture-perfect couple meant to recall Chip and Joanna Gaines. “We can do better,” Jann and Cricket think aloud. When they hear of a casting call for the next home renovation hosts, Jann and Cricket jump it on immediately. What’s the one thing that any home renovator needs (besides talent)? Money.
Just when Jann and Cricket run out of funds, they get a sign from God (or the devil, depending on how you look at it). When breaking through a wall, they discover it’s lined with cold, hard cash. Jann and Cricket don’t bother questioning whose money it is or where it came from. Immediately, they put the money back into the house, giving it a truly fabulous makeover. It turns out, the money belonged to the cartel, led by Arturo Castro.
Kristin Olson and Will Forte are consummate professionals, always working hard for a laugh. They’re doing more of the heavy lifting than the script. Both of their characters lean hard on the abrasive oddball template that recalls some of Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell’s characters of the 90s and 00s. Still, they inject the problem with an energy that makes one want to continue watching.
While the “Flipped” stars keep things light and breezy, the plot creaks forward at a snail’s pace. With episodes less than ten minutes long, the show hardly gets anywhere after three episodes. We’re barely introduced to the cartel that is positioned to be the major opposition to the idiot savant Melfi duo. In many respects, it still feels like we’re easing into a story that should already be unfolding. The characters are zany and entertaining, but it takes too long for the situation to catch up to the characters. The trailer promises Eva Longoria and Andy Garcia to make appearances, but three episodes in, they have yet to show up.
What separates Quibi from other streamers is its mobile technology. Content on the app works as both a vertical video and a horizontal video. As consumers change the orientation of their phones, the content aspect ratio changes with it. Some wondered how one could still create premium “peak TV” content created especially for mobile. How would it not look like a glorified YouTube video? The Quibi technology is incredibly fresh, making switching between views seamless. However, this doesn’t add to the enjoyment of “Flipped.” So much of comedy can come from visual gags. Unfortunately, in trying to appeal to both aspect ratios, the comedy looks flat. Every shot focuses on close-ups of the actors, leaving little room for innovation.
Overall, that’s one thing “Flipped” lacks innovation. This feels like a strange thing to a fault, something that is launching a new mobile streaming app, complete with new tech innovation. Yet, everything feels so expected. The punchlines land with a thud. Each seven-minute chunk ends before it revs up and gets its energy. When the final moments promise a new twist, nothing feels particularly revolutionary or exciting. The pleasure of a quick bite (or Quibi) is that nothing lasts too long, for better or worse. For fans of Olson and Forte, there are worse ways to pass seven minutes than watching “Flipped.”