[This post originally appeared as part of Recommendation Machine, IndieWire’s daily TV picks feature.]
Where to Watch “Stath Lets Flats”: HBO Max (the series originally aired on Channel 4)
There’s something hypnotic about the opening credits for the first season of “Stath Lets Flats.” From the way that Jamie Demetriou fakes opening a door all the way through the multiple floating Stath Charalamboses at the end, that green-screen awkwardness is a pretty clear snapshot of where the title character is at the beginning of the series. He’s overconfident, a little petulant, and still hilarious in spite of himself.
Stath’s odd persistence is almost in a league of his own. The episode-opening montages find him taking customers through various London-area rental properties, flailing around when he’s not hyperfocused on the parts of the flat that aren’t worth the attention. Stath is not great at his job, but you get the sense that he might be halfway decent if he somehow just managed to channel all of his energies at the right target.
That kind of willful cluelessness puts him right at home with the rest of the staff of Michael & Eagle Lettings, the family-owned real estate business run out of a single-unit storefront. There’s the occasional overachiever Carole (Katy Wix) who’s still vulnerable to office nonsense. Al (Al Roberts) is the quiet MVP, observing from the sidelines while trying not to get in the way. In a perpetual state of disbelief, Dean (Kiell Smith-Bynoe, who between this and “Ghosts” already has a solid ensemble comedy resume) is the one Michael & Eagle employee most impervious to the constant wave of distractions coming his way.
Natasia Demetriou taps into a more subdued vibe here than on “What We Do in the Shadows,” playing Stath’s sister Sophie, who mainly splits her time between not-so-secretly pining after Al and a trying to start a pop music career. (In case it isn’t obvious from the ease of their on-screen back-and-forths, Sophie and Jamie are real-life siblings, too.)
It’s fun tracking the show as it evolves with Stath himself. The first season is locked into Stath’s inability to convince people, whether it’s prospective renters, professional rivals, or his own business-owner dad (Christos Stergioglou). Most of the show in those first few episodes is built around everyone reacting to the tornado of spectacular failure that Stath brings through the office nine times out of 10. The second season, though, drops some of the mockumentary-adjacent atmosphere and indulges a little bit more of the show’s goofier, dreamier side. “Stath Lets Flats” can thrive on the stumbling-over-himself nature of its main character while also making room for longer-term looks at a guy who’s managing to grow up, at whatever painfully slow pace he chooses.
The show recently wrapped Season 3 in the UK, but there’s plenty to dig into in the two seasons available for streaming now. That of course includes the Season 2-opening commercial that helps rebrand the company, one that leads Stath and Al to try to make their own in response. Both double as their own out-of-context comedy sketches, weirdly perfect for a fictional business still rocking a .biz URL.
Even with all the shenanigans from underqualified employees and painfully missed signals, there’s still a sweetness to “Stath Lets Flats” sometimes. In the Season 1 finale, right when you’d expect him to be at his lowest, Stath hears Sophie make up a song on the spot. The genuine look of pride on his face at what his sister comes up with is enough to counterbalance every cubic foot of cringe that comes before it. Like the best TV comedies that have a weirdly lovable, self-assured screw-up at its center, it’s those little breakthroughs that make the rest of the jokes land just a little bit harder.
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