Created by Ange Basterga and Nicolas Lopez for Netflix, ‘Dealer’ is an enthralling crime drama that portrays a reliable picture of the gloomy underworld of organized crime. Set in the backdrop of the French port city of Marseilles, the show follows a gangster and drug lord trying to turn his life around and pursue his dreams of becoming a rapper. A crew of two men, Franck and Thomas, arrive in the hostile neighborhood of the gang leader, Tony, hoping to create a music video out of Tony’s intense life in the ghetto.
However, little do they know that the project turns upside down, and what begins as a seemingly innocuous video shoot slowly transforms into a full-fledged hostage situation. Out of desperation, Franck plays a wrong card and initiates a domino effect in the process, which would have longstanding repercussions for the characters involved in the mayhem. If you have been captivated by the turbulent world of gang warfare depicted in the show and are wondering whether the show is based on real-life events, we have your back.
Is Dealer Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Dealer’ is not based on a true story. While making the series, the creators were aware of the violent underworld of the city of Marseilles, which inspired them to come up with a story that reflects the reality of gang wars in the city. For an unassuming tourist, Marseilles is a French city of considerable grandeur and captivating seashores. However, as the sun comes down, the criminal underworld, referred to as “Le Milieu,” takes over the streets, making the city one of the most notorious ones in all of the European continent.
The series was conceived to be an indictment of the incessant eruption of violent gang wars in the city of Marseilles, albeit in a fictional manner. However, the found footage technique is used to perfection to give the audience a semblance of reality. The turbulent socio-political scenario of Marseilles has previously been depicted by crime films such as ‘Rogue City.’ However, the series is not just about drugs, guns, and gang rivalry – although it may seem so from a superficial angle.
The show looks and talks like a crime drama, and it most certainly is one, but the show rejects mindless violence at the onset to portray a nuanced picture of a drug mafia. The story is essentially a fictional account of the life of Tony, a drug mafia and aspiring rapper caught in the hailstorm of conflict. Tony, as we come to know, is of Algerian descent.
We, as the audience, sense that Tony does not seem to belong, and this state of not belonging propels Tony’s character forward. Algeria, as the audience may know, was a colony of the French, and many Algerians living in France in the present time face racial discrimination. When racial identity coincides with economic development (or the lack of it, more and more immigrants are forced to enter the nocturnal world of organized crime.
Also, the TV show is as much about rap music as it is about clashes between rival gangs. The audience may not be aware that France fosters a flourishing underground rap culture that aims to move the attention of youngsters away from the criminal world. Rap has always been a voice of protest heard from the margins of society, and Tony uses the vehicle of rap music to ultimately narrate his life experiences and voice his concerns about the changing times. Therefore, while the show fictionalizes much of its narrative of wrath and retribution, it remains closely rooted in its depiction of the erratic reality of the Marseilles suburbs.
Read More: Where is Dealer Filmed?