Ah winter; even in LA, we can don layers and bake cookies and bread with seasonal abandon. Somehow a rainy day transforms just another Saturday into an event. Cookies and wet dogs. We can’t travel, so this change of scenery will have to do for adventure.
I’ve been spending my screen hours in Paris and can enthusiastically recommend two shows that will transport you effortlessly.
Lupin is a five part Netflix series starring my new screen crush, Omar Sy. He’s a huge star in France, and as the “gentleman thief” Arsene Lupin, he’s as stalwart as a bodyguard and lithe as a bobcat. The short series is based on a character from a popular 1905 book by Maurice Leblanc – Lupin is a cross between Robin Hood and James Bond, a master of disguise with a conscience. He’s not exactly squeaky clean, but watching his cons play out against the background of the streets of Paris is my kind of time-travel. Years ago, one of the first shows I really binged was White Collar, which starred Matt Bomer as an art thief turned FBI informant in NYC, so the combination of a charming thief who is (mostly) on the side of good with dexterous camerawork of a beloved city is pandemic candy. The limited run is just five shows, and ends with a cliffhanger. We’re all waiting for Season Two.
Here is a fun map from Secret Paris detailing where the series was filmed.
Trolling for my next show, I came across Call My Agent; remembering how much a few friends had enjoyed this, I clicked in and found myself again in Paris. The hour long show features a small talent agency in Paris (who knew there was such a thing?), and the characters are gently hilarious. The comedy pits commerce against gloriously human characters, and because I have a son making his way up through a talent agency, I am getting a particular kick out of the antics of the underlings. Actual French movie stars, such as Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Hubert, are sprinkled throughout the seasons, so I’m digging in- the fourth (and final) season just dropped, and each season has only six episodes.
I didn’t come up for air until after Valentine’s Day -the series is fantastic, and one of the best features is how seamlessly women are portrayed with strength, agency, and power. Again and again, there is a woman in charge, behind the camera or making an actor’s deal; even at the level of conversation, the clarity of thought behind how women operate for them selves is one of secret thrills of the show. When Juliette Binoche or Sigourney Weaver appear as themselves, it’s even more apparent. If you believe that representation matters, you’ll appreciate the subtle genius of this series.