If you want to watch a TV series that is different from the regular Hollywood produce, has clean comedy, some history, good dose of drama, and a bit of action, then check out the French TV Show “Au service de la France” (A very secret service) that’s showing in Netflix. It is a comedy hybrid of Pink Panther, Mad Men and Yes, Minister, all in one package. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the two seasons (12 episodes each, with a run time of 22 minutes for each episode) and even learned a few about post World War II France that I was not aware of.
“A very secret service” is about a hotchpotch set of agents working for the Secret Service of France in the 1960s – they are not the James Bond of MI6 or the Ethan Hunt of IMF, but resemble the French Inspector Jacques Clouseau from the Pink Panther. The protagonist is André Merlaux (played by Hugo Becker), a new recruit to the service, who has to learn on the job from his quirky colleagues, while saving his life from a colonel who is the head of the service and the father of his girlfriend – luckily André has a patron in the form of his immediate boss the invincible Moïse, played brilliantly by Christophe Kourotchkine.
The 1960s is an interesting time for France – having come out of World War II with its pride hurt, it is a nation that is getting used to its reduced influence in a cold-war world and one that has to deal with the scores of African colonies that are demanding independence one after the other. Through the three senior agents, assigned each to Africa, Algeria and the Eastern Bloc, we see a glimpse of those parts of the world from the view of France and the power the former imperial nation had on its African colonies. We get to see the dysfunctional market conditions that prevailed in the Soviet Moscow and in parts of Berlin under the USSR control. The French in the 1960s with their love for food, their formal fashion sense, their bureaucracy’s adherence to filling forms and following written procedures (the obsession with stamping was a recurring theme), and a sense of entitlement to having fun, were interesting to watch.
Catch the show on Netflix.
Also published on Medium.