One of the greatest changes that were brought in by Netflix and other streaming platforms is the wide range of foreign language shows and movies that they’ve made available on their websites. A few years ago, it was as difficult as deciphering a foreign language to watch a cult series from a non-English speaking region. Netflix has changed that and we now have an impressive lineup of foreign-language shows. Like in movies and food, the French keep their peculiar aesthetic temperament in their TV shows. With that said, here’s the list of really good French shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
20. Mythomaniac (2019-)
The series which is originally called ‘Mytho’ gets its name from the psychological condition of compulsive lying. The story revolves around a suburban woman, Elvira Giannini (Marina Hands), who feels underappreciated for her role in the family. What starts as a lie to get noticed once again and receive her family’s attention; snowballs into a troublesome burden. Her partner, Patrick (Mathieu Demy), who was cheating on her becomes attentive to her and her three kids become affectionate towards her. The problem begins as her youngest daughter’s blog about a mother battling cancer goes viral. Marina’s flawless performance has gathered a lot of praise.
19. Inhuman Resources (2020-)
One of the biggest pull factors for this gripping series is the lead actor and former professional footballer, Eric Cantona who plays Alain Delambre. Alain is a middle-aged man who gets thrown out of his job because of his age. He looks like he has hit rock bottom when he chances upon a job opportunity. As he goes on with the hiring process, things get curious since just when we think he is going to be rejected, he gets selected for the next round. The story unfolds when he is called for the interview and is made to go through a hostage situation that redefines Alain.
18. Vampires (2020-)
The story of a half-vampire half-human girl from Paris, Doina Radescu (Oulaya Amamra), who struggles to suppress the vampire instincts of hers is definitely an engaging storyline. She stays with her mother and three other siblings. What sets this show apart is the fact that it does not treat vampirism as supernatural but a result of a genetic mutation, rooting it closer to the real world. This explains the use of pills, that Doina is forced to take every day to protect her from the “side effects” of being a vampire, like scorching in the sun. There is no doubt that it will be compared to the many other successful vampire series but you might want to give this a try. This will definitely add to your repertoire of fictional trivia about the vampire universe.
17. Mortel (2019-)
The series is a bit of teen drama with elements of the supernatural. ‘Mortel’ in French means “deadly” or “mortal.” Two teenagers, Sofiane (Carl Malapa) and Victor (Nemo Schiffman) strike a deal with the god of voodoo, Obe (Corentin Fila) who gives them supernatural powers in order to solve and avenge the death of Sofiane’s brother. Sofiane can manipulate people’s actions whereas Victor can read their minds; but for them to be able to do this, they must be in the vicinity of each other. They take help from their friend, Luisa (Manon Bresch) to break the power Obe holds over them.
16. Marseille (2016-2018)
War for control over the French port city of Marseille breaks out, when the long-running mayor Robert Taro (Gerard Depardieu), clashes with his former protégé, Lucas Barret (Benoit Magimel). ‘Marseille’ is the story of corruption, lies, deceit, betrayal, and revenge that accompany the hunger for power. Interestingly, the show did not see as much success in France as much as it did outside of it. However, for those of you who enjoy political drama, this might just feel right. Created by Dan Franck, ‘Marseille’ is the first French-language original production for Netflix.
15. The Chalet (2018)
‘The Chalet’ is an intriguing tale of a group of friends who gather for a wedding. They pick up a remote chalet somewhere hidden in the French Alps for the occasion. But things soon take an ugly turn when they find themselves trapped in the chalet. Their shock intensifies when a cold-blooded murderer appears from the woods. Set in a largely abandoned French village called Valmoline, the series consists of six episodes. ‘The Chalet’ is a well-made thriller that builds up horror at a slow pace. The narrative allows the tension to grow exponentially as the desperate group realizes how helpless they are, with a killer looking for them.
14. Into the Night (2020- )
The apocalyptic sci-fi drama thriller, ‘Into the Night’ is the first Belgian Netflix Original series. A group of passengers onboard a night flight that is supposed to go from Brussels to Moscow and try to outrun a disaster that comes from being exposed to the sun’s rays. The story highlights the dynamics between these people and how each of them reacts in a situation of crisis; not everyone is a hero. This story of survival makes us revisit the fundamental nature to organize and have a social order even if it is a small group. In the face of crisis, everything demands change and reorganization. The series is apt for the global context of the pandemic as it gives us a glimmer of hope; when faced with a crisis, people focus on efficiency and figure out a way to contribute the best they can.
13. The Eddy (2020- )
The eight episodes limited series is centered around a jazz club in Paris, called ‘The Eddy.’ Elliott (Andre Holland) is the owner of the jazz club and is trying to keep it running as he goes through a very rough patch. The show is a delight for music lovers as that is the constant thread that strings drama and the story of crime in the series. Interestingly, ‘The Eddy’ doesn’t show Paris in the romantic light that it is famous for. This introduces us to the grubbier or as somewhat call it, the “real” side of Paris which also houses immigrants and non-French speaking people from different corners of the world. The first two episodes of the series are filmed by Damien Chazelle, famous for ‘La La Land.’
12. Criminal: France (2019- )
Set in a police interview room in Paris, the interrogations take us everywhere in the world of crime. The series heavily relies on the procedure of interrogation and the mind games that detectives play with the suspects unravel uncountable mysteries. This demands tactful writing as well as acting, given the confined setting, which the series has delivered on. All episodes of the series have been shot at Ciudad de la Tele in Madrid. This series has been made into four versions with teams of writers and directors from the U.K, Germany, Spain, and France which gives the show a wide outreach and autonomy to some extent as different teams from different countries can use their own style, cast, and stories.
11. The Hook Up Plan (2018 – )
‘The Hook Up Plan’ is an eight-episode French rom-com on Netflix. The series revolves around Elsa, played by Zita Hanrot, who is trying to move on after a painful break up that happened two years ago. Even though it’s been two years since the break up with Maxime, she is unable to forget the past and it continues to haunt her. Things go out of hand when her best friends Charlotte, played by Sabrina Ouazani, and the married and pregnant Emilie, played by Joséphine Draï, decide to hire an attractive and charming teacher named Jules, played by Marc Ruchmann, to seduce Elsa. Charlotte’s plan is to help her friend move on from the painful memories. But the scheme works more effectively than she expected and the escort changes Zita’s life forever. The cast members’ onscreen chemistry is the key factor of the show.
10. Family Business (2019- )
The comedy series directed and created by Igor Gotesman has recently been renewed for the third season. The story is about Joseph (Jonathan Cohen), a failed entrepreneur who decides to open the first marijuana coffeeshop in France when he finds out that marijuana is soon going to be legalized in the country. The genre is familiar as it borrows from the much loved American combination of stoner comedy and Jewish humor. Taking help from his traditional Jewish family, Joseph learns the ways of the “stoner” world, and the naive yet funny encounters of this family with the world new to them make it an easy watch.
9. The Break (2016 – )
‘The Break’ is a Belgian crime drama which is quite popular among fans for its twists and dark humor. The plot follows a detective investigating the mysterious murder of a 19-year-old athlete in a remote Belgian town. When the villagers find the mutilated dead body of an African footballer in a river, it triggers a series of unnatural incidents. Rumors spread across the village that the killer might be hiding in the nearby woods. The detective is engulfed by the mystery of the murder and the grumpy villagers. The series is hailed by critics as a trailblazer in the new wave of European crime drama on Netflix.
8. A Very Secret Service (2015)
‘A Very Secret Service’ is a French spy comedy set against the backdrop of the Cold War in 1960. The series, which is touted as an absurd and unconventional spy drama, follows André Merlaux, played by Hugo Becker. He is summoned to train with the cadres of the French Secret Services. Merlaux struggles to cope up with the new world of secret people with a dubious look on their faces. They always look at him with suspicion, or he believes so. The plot shapes up around Merlaux’s stand-off with his foreign and bureaucratic nemesis. The series is an analysis of the emotional and psychological impacts of the Cold War on the people who serve on the war front. ‘A Very Secret Service’ is also a cultural and social commentary of France in the early ’60s, through deadpan comedy.
7. Marianne (2019)
The French Netflix Original is a horror series about a young novelist Emma Larsimon (Victoire de Bois) who is compelled to move back to her hometown. Things get bizarre when her dreams start to merge with reality with the common factor being the witch she “created,” Marriane who possesses Mrs. Daugeron (Mireille Herbstmeyer). Did Emma really “create” the character of Marianne? The dash of humor in this horror story has deeply been appreciated by the viewers and critics. With Halloween just around the corner, this will definitely be worth it.
6. Cannabis (2016)
‘Cannabis’ is a thrilling journey through the international cannabis trade route from North Africa to the Mediterranean. The series takes viewers for a high-octane ride across North Africa, Spain, France, as we come across several people functioning as nodes for the trade network. What begins as a minor marijuana theft from a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, halfway between Spain and Africa, accelerates into a full-blown thriller ride. The theft of two tons of marijuana triggers a series of events from Marbella to Paris, through the dusty mountains of northern Morocco. In the interconnected chain of cannabis trafficking network, the small incident can blow up the entire multi-million dollar industry that feeds farmers, chemists, shippers, brokers, wholesalers, retailers, and customers. The series has become a fan favorite for its well-defined characters and unexpected twists and turns. All six episodes of the first season of ‘Cannabis‘ are available for streaming on Netflix.
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5. The Bonfire of Destiny (2019)
The series which is also known as ‘Le Bazar de la Charite’ is inspired by true events of a fire at the building hosting Charity Bazar in 1897. The plot centers around three women and the dramatization of the aftermath of that fire in their lives. It is the fire that sets the story in motion as the series is about how each of them copes with the tragedy and what it means for them. The decisions they make hereafter have the potential to change their life. The miniseries is directed by Alexandre Laurent and the three lead characters are played by Audrey Fleurot as Adrienne de Lenverpre, Julie de Bona as Rose Riviere, and Camille Lou as Alice de Jeansin.
4. Call My Agent (2015 – )
‘Call My Agent’ is a comedic take on the lives and works of people working in the world of talent agencies in France. The plot follows a method actor who finds it difficult to get rid of a film character he played in his last movie. He even signs a new contract using the name of the character! His agent Andrea finds the contract and searches for the actor. She finds him in his home garden, still dressed in his character’s clothes. He refuses to listen to Andrea’s explanations. ‘Call My Agent’ evokes laughter using some genuinely hilarious situations and characterizations. At times, the series is a spoof that pokes fun at method actors, who disappear into their characters and are unable to come out. The series also depicts the daily lives of the agents along with some funny cameos of famous French actors in every episode. All three seasons of ‘Call My Agent!‘ are available for streaming on Netflix.
3. Spotless (2015 – )
‘Spotless’ is a crime drama set in London, which follows a troubled family man, Jean Bastiere. He leads a typical lower-middle-class life with his wife and two children. The mundane rhythm of his life is disrupted when Martin, his brother, arrives unexpectedly after so many years. Known as an outlaw, Martin’s arrival turns Jean’s life upside down. Jean finds himself in a difficult situation because Martin brings a number of painful memories from their childhood with him. To make things worse, Jean learns that his brother has arrived with a dead body of a woman in his van! All ten episodes of the first season of the show are available on the streaming giant.
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2. November 13: Attack on Paris (2018)
This documentary series is directed by brothers Gedeon and Jules Nadet who bring to you the testimonies of those who have lived through the terror of the November night in 2015. Coordinated shootings and explosions in Paris shook the city as the authorities and rescue workers scrambled to come to citizens’ aid. This documentary series captures the raw and real emotions as the various people ranging from survivors, politicians, and civil officers relive their experiences in the interview. The documentary deliberately omits the use of any theatrical enhancers which could sway the viewers towards any particular emotion. The idea was not to show the aftermath of the attack or vilify the people responsible for it but to shift the lens and help people understand which of the events were happening simultaneously and how did the government and law enforcement officials responded to it. This highly rated documentary series is a must-watch.
1. Osmosis (2019 – )
The French sci-fi drama ‘Osmosis’ is a Netflix original series in which humans live in a future controlled by algorithms. The plot centers on a new algorithm that matches a person with his/her soulmate. ‘Osmosis’ unfolds almost entirely in a sterile environment of the titular tech company which is a couple of weeks away from introducing its path-breaking matchmaking technology. Ahead of the official launch, Osmosis tests their beta version of the matchmaking app on a small group of subjects. However, an algorithm that can dig deep into your brain corridors comes with a price. The same revolutionary technology can be used to copy our innermost thoughts and buried secrets. Though a slow watch, ‘Osmosis‘ is full of thrills, twists, and love.
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