It turns out making a TV show out of a meme wasn’t a particularly good idea – who’d have thought it?
This review of the Netflix series Florida Man Season 1 does not contain spoilers.
It’s very 2023 for a TV show to be based on a meme, isn’t it?
That’s the case in Florida Man, though, a seven-part genre-blending Netflix series co-produced by Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan’s company, Aggregate, as part of a multi-year deal. Most people are familiar with the idea. Google a date and the phrase “Florida man” and you’ll discover that there is seemingly no date in human history on which a Floridian male didn’t do something insane.
But how do you make a series out of that? Well, apparently you blend a crime drama with a comedy caper, drench it neo-noir aesthetic sensibilities, dot it with globs of surprising gore and absurdity, and stretch it out at least two episodes too long.
Florida Man Season 1 review and plot summary
The plot, which is nuts but intermittently entertaining, follows Mike (Edgar Ramirez), a former cop and gambling addict who is despatched to his home state of Florida by mob boss Moss (Emory Cohen) to locate his girlfriend, Delly (Abbey Lee), with whom Mike was carrying on an affair.
Cue a string of improbable scenarios that wouldn’t look out of place in the kind of search results that made this idea a meme in the first place. It’s Ramirez’s capable shoulders on which the whole show rests and he does a good job playing a down-on-his-luck everyman thrust into various unlikely scenarios and well-worn TV genres. But the zany material tends to overwhelm any genuine chemistry Ramirez’s Mike might have with his sister Patsy (Otmara Merrero), estranged father Sonny (Anthony LaPaglia), and ex-wife Iris (Lex Scott Davis).
Is Florida Man good or bad?
Florida Man has a tendency to get carried away with itself. There are extraneous characters present only to provide a particular narrative function, subplots with little payoff, and far too much fluff for a series of this length. It starts strong but loses its way quickly until a couple of late episodes directed by Clark Gregg, who also stars, that feel like too little too late.
The feeling is of a deliberately attention-grabbing first effort designed to prove a point rather than cohere into a compelling story. One supposes that emulating meme culture will produce such a result almost every time because meme culture is fundamentally incompatible with basic storytelling principles. You can’t have your cake and eat it, in other words, even in Florida.
Is Florida Man worth watching?
Still, there’s some novelty in the overall premise and the execution is, as mentioned, waveringly entertaining, though perhaps in a morbidly curious way more than anything. The cast are all game and remain invested longer than the audience likely will, who would have been better served by a short limited series or even a feature film with the same core idea but a lot less of the excess.
What did you think of Florida Man Season 1? Comment below.
You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.