Hidden within the endless bounty of entertainment that is SBS On Demand is a riveting French show with a name that has a lot to live up to.
Unlike Baz’s Australia, writer Virginie Brac and the director Gilles Bannier have created a show that does justice to the disparate elements that make up the sprawling City of Lights. Twelve separate stories are told, taking us from the back alleys of seamy Pigalle clubs to the back seat of French parliamentary limousines.
Here are seven reasons why you should visit Paris.
It’s from the big brains behind Spiral
One of the downsides of the quality television boom is that with all the oceans of content coming at us from every corner of the earth, some of it's going to reach land and some will get swept away with the current.
For many, the French crime/legal epic Spiral, which also happens to be available on SBS On Demand, is one such show. Premiering in 2005, Brac and Bannier worked this intelligent and unsettling show, ensnaring European audiences with a twisty dead-body-come-police-conspiracy plot, and keeping them on the hook with five seasons. Season six is due this year in France and next year everywhere else.
It's for fans of patchwork storytelling
As tempting as it was to use the word tapestry, let’s stick with patchwork. Either way, if you enjoy Robert Altman, or Magnolia and Traffic (sigh, yes and even Crash), or more recent anthology series such as American Crime, chances are you’ll dig Paris. Why? Separate stories that overlap as time progresses, until they eventually share the same story.
It's set over 24 hours
Unlike 24, which was literally 24 hours of elapsed plot, Paris uses a full rotation of the earth over six tight episodes - lending the entire proceedings, which due to the multiple stories could have become unwieldy - a sense of immediacy.
The writers have done a borderline ingenious job with keeping all the spinning plates in the air until they’re all sharing the same stick.
It's the next best thing to an actual trip to Paris
As we move to all corners of the French capital, meeting those from all walks of life along the way, one gets a fairly comprehensive experience of the various districts of Paris, as well as the Parisian sadness brimming beneath the city’s passion and light. It’ll either have you craving your first/next Charles De Gaulle landing, or forgetting Europe for good and eyeing a trip to New Caledonia’s Club Med.
The range of characters
It’s not often a show jumps from the Prime Minister’s parental woes to a underappreciated transgender singer to a pregnant cleaner to a weary and indebted thief without messing up the tone. Here, multiple stories keep the work fresh.
The cast and crew choices
Renowned French actor Eric Caravaca shares the frame with popular Swiss model and actress Julie Ordon and trendy French rapper Kool Shen. Add gorgeous, Mad Men-esque titles that places the Eiffel Tower under the microscope, a transcendent score by keyboard virtuoso Herve Salters, and you’ve got a miniseries where almost all of the elements are in harmony.
How everything fits
There’s something immensely satisfying about separate yet interesting pieces slowly fitting together, and Paris plays on that desire, taking its time to reveal the links between stories and characters. When viewing events in the pilot that are entertaining enough on their own, after finishing the miniseries they take on a new meaning.
Swoon over to this enticing new maze of a drama now by heading over to SBS On Demand. You can watch the first episode right here: