These odd characters are supported by Iso and Perlman’s dark, sardonic humor. Kareem pushes his stepson to call him daddy in exchange for a favor; Kevin offers rambling excuses to Drew in the hopes of forestalling his bullying. Dan’s digressive pep talks, which are actually quite negative, imbue the brisk show with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. A copious amount of visual humor teems from these breezy situationals. In the style of an omniscient narrator, often a subtitle will inform us of a character’s true thoughts: “Drew also values a child’s innocence” was a favorite of mine.
The obvious theme coursing through “Flatbush Misdemeanors” is mental health. Iso and Perlman, however, do not lay that ingredient on heavy. They lightly populate Dan and Kevin’s arc with an aura of unfulfillment: Dan is romantically alone and Kevin can’t seem to break through as an artist. They seem adrift in their surroundings, and the way back to shore might as well be under dense fog. That sentiment is first captured through Tipping’s raw, frenetic direction, with sharp whip pans and long takes that further instill a sense of intimacy. If you visually shook these characters any harder, they’d probably crumble under the weight of their doldrums.
The unmoored melancholy inhabiting these figures is especially felt in Iso and Perlman’s complementary performances. Just by their call-and-response droll vocal patter, the balletic blocking between them, and their anticipatory facial reactions, their bond feels fully lived-in. That comfortability is of course born from the actors’ real-life collaborations. And it gives us the sense that these two men not only could share anything. They do share everything.
Some of the episodes can be a tad too discrete—we rarely feel like we’re narratively moving forward. But between the array of intriguing supporting players and the heartfelt friendship at the core of this darkly comedic series, Iso and Perlman’s “Flatbush Misdemeanors” is a hilarious, unforced two-hander that feels totally fresh.
Three episodes screened for review.
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