I wrote this whilst holidaying in France around the Euro 2016 period. Read on for the link on the GQ website and the full text.
THE 5 FINE FRENCH TV DRAMAS YOU’RE NOT WATCHING
Want to improve your French ahead of Euro 2016? Try one of these gritty box sets from across the channel
There’s a French Revolution taking place. Renowned for their wining, dining and womanising, until recently the French fell short when it came to their TV offerings, particularly in comparison to must-see “Nordic noir” imports like The Killing and Borgen. However, it seems that the French have been rolling up their Bretons. Dark, gritty, and – of course – sexy, the latest small-screen efforts from across the pond have had us on the edge of our seats even before the Euro 2016 kick-off. So whether you’re killing time between games, or fancy learning some more sophisticated French profanities, read on for our guide to the best that French TV has to offer.
Bold and brash, this new Netflix series has divided critics, much like its leading man, Gerard Depardieu. The Russian citizen plays a coke-snorting, larger-than-life mayor who’s out for revenge. Marseille, with its diamond-in-the-rough, outsider status (the French equivalent to Liverpool), provides the perfect backdrop.
The Returned (Les Revenants)
A GQ favourite, this dark and eerie drama takes place in a small French village, where dead residents keep inexplicably reappearing, before attempting to resume their normal lives. With a host of mysterious characters (keep an eye out for the creepy boy “Victor”), the series won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2013.
Winner of the 2015 International Emmy for Best Drama Series, Spiral has proved a hugely successful export for France, with sales to broadcasters in more than 70 countries. The show tells the stories of the lawyers, judges and police officers working at the Palais de Justice, the series title punning on the phrase “a spiral of violence” (engrenage de violence). Caroline Proust is particularly excellent as an unstable but talented criminal investigator.
A more nuanced offering than Marseille, Baron Noir premiered to critical acclaim in February 2016. The political saga focuses on ruthless anti-hero Philippe Rickwaert as he climbs the social ladder and embarks on the presidential campaign. Think French House of Cards.
This gripping crime drama series follows four Parisian detectives whose colleague Max is accused of criminal misconduct, and commits suicide. His four friends decide they must do whatever necessary – even break the law – in order to clear Max’s name. A thriller at its core, the script also goes into real depth about the specifics of law enforcement.