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Hit TV series: Rise of the French New Wave

21 Jan 2021 / 08:55 H.

Paris, Jan 20: Netflix’s Lupin is the latest in a string of high-end French series to become runaway international hits.

Once rubbished for its lack of original drama, French series have transplanted Nordic Noir as the new streaming favourites, outshining top US and British shows.

Here are the key series of the new French Wave:

Les Revenants

The spooky series often called The Returned won a best drama Emmy for its first season in 2013.

Its deeply original story about recently dead people who reappear apparently alive and well in an alpine village both freaked and intrigued audiences with its mix of horror and surreal suspense.

Engrenages

The gritty police drama sometimes translated as Spiral has explored corruption, migration and racism in its eight seasons so far.

It won a second best series Emmy for producers Canal+ – the French HBO – in 2015.

The Bureau

The five seasons of the stylish spy thriller set in France’s foreign secret service starring the country’s most famous Mathieus – Kassovitz and Amalric – have been universally acclaimed.

With plots uncannily echoing real world events, it has been among the most downloaded series in the US and Canada and one of Canal+’s best performing series ever.

Its success also helped kick-start the hilarious spoof, “A Very Secret Service”, featuring fantastically sexist and chauvinist French spooks from the 1960s, which has been snapped up by Amazon.

Fais pas ci, fais pa ca

The mockumentary-style sitcom about two very different Paris families changed the face of French public TV with its first season in 2007.

Its title means “Don’t do this, don’t do that” and is drawn from a classic 1960s song –the series’ title music – about nagging parents by French singer Jacques Dutronc.

US network ABC quickly snapped up the rights to an American version before rivals CBS broadcast Modern Family in 2009. Fans were quick to point out similarities between the two shows, but that has not stopped the French show being sold all over the world.

Call My Agent!

Created by Fanny Herrero, who also wrote Fais pas ci, fais pa ca, the series about a Paris talent agency has been a comedy sensation, featuring cameos from top French and Hollywood stars sending themselves up as the spoilt tantrum-throwing brats we hope they might be.

Picked up by Netflix from France 2, it has also launched its stars Camille Cottin, the hard-nosed lesbian agent Andrea, and love-crossed secretary Laure Calamy into the big time.

Parlement

The black comedy set in the European Parliament was France’s lockdown hit, with a parade of national stereotypes worthy of an Asterix comic and some fantastic performances.

Shot in English, French and German, and with a killer Brexit subplot, a second season is already on the way.

Lupin

The Netflix series starring Omar Sy as a modern take on France’s beloved gentleman thief, Arsene Lupin, has been an instant hit.

In its first few weeks it has outperformed the much talked about “Bridgerton” and “The Queen’s Gambit” and is soon to hit 70 million views.

OVNI(s)

The latest offering from the Canal+ hit factory is a pitch-perfect comedy set among the investigators of the very real French agency that investigated UFOs in the 1970s. Whether the real GEPAN had a pet pink flamingo is of course a state secret.- AFP

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