Streaming’s Hidden Treasures: Call My Agent!

Image: Netflix

Streaming has changed the way we view films and television. It is a change that has been welcomed by many and sniffed at by others. Like it or not, however, Netflix, Amazon and the like play a huge part in being a film-lover today. These platforms have vast amounts to offer, some of which is sorely overlooked. Streaming’s Hidden Treasures aims to pick out quality, different and lesser-known cinema and TV from across the internet, offering a guide to a variety of entertainment with ease and affordability.

Creator: Fanny Herrero

Starring: Camille Cottin, Thibault de Montalembert, Grégory Montel, Fanny Sidney, Stéfi Celma, Nicolas Maury, Laure Calamy, Liliane Rovère

Streaming Service: Netflix

Are you starting to feel like you’ve exhausted everything in the English language on Netflix? Perhaps it’s time to look to the international section for your next series to watch. The French series Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent) is highly bingeable, with hour-long episodes packed with drama, gossip and extremely likeable characters.

Yes, you do have to switch on the subtitles (unless your fluent in French), but before you dismiss the series because of this, hear me out. Subtitles aren’t that bad. And besides, if, like me, you wish you had a better grasp of a foreign language, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you start to pick up just by passively watching an entertaining foreign language series. You can feel good about learning a new language during quarantine without putting in any groundwork – it’s win-win.

Bonus learning aside, Call My Agent is a great watch. It’s set within a film talent agency called ASK, and revolves around the agents, their assistants and the film stars they work for, revelling in all the drama and gossip that comes with the industry. Tonally, the show is pretty much defined by this gossip and drama. For the most part, all the day-to-day problems are relatively unimportant: the agents are faced with non-compliant actors, try to disseminate false rumours, attempt to reconcile co-stars who have fallen out, wrestle with tarnishing media stories… and that’s just in the office. As well as these behind-the-curtain dramas of the stars, the agents’ private lives are also wrought with entertaining relationship dramas and personal dilemmas. All of these issues, insignificant in the grand scheme of things, are made to seem critical in the world of ASK, creating a light-hearted, melodramatic vibe, which is great fun to watch.

This world of gossip is held together superbly by the loveable characters Hervé and Noémie. The former is the fabulously camp assistant to Gabriel, who has a particular flair for coming up with absurd yet oddly believable excuses for ASK’s clients. Noémie meanwhile, becomes increasingly entertaining throughout the series as the excitable and somewhat ditsy assistant to Mathias, who positively fawns over her beloved boss and is overcome with theatrical anxiety at the slightest complications. These two characters are rarely at the centre of the action, but the series is undoubtedly indebted to them in terms of holding it all together. 

While these frivolous, light-hearted issues are essential to many of the plots, so too are the more weighty issues, which run in undercurrents throughout several episodes or series. For example, Call My Agent explores the troublesome relationship between assistant Camille and her estranged father Mathias, as well as commenting on the implicit racism within the film industry when aspiring actress Sofia is expected and encouraged to audition for certain roles purely because she is black.

The nature of the series as a show all about the agents of film stars means that we’re constantly seeing different French actors pass through storylines – and most of these stars are played by themselves. These frequent cameos are a quirky touch even if, as a British viewer, you don’t recognise all of them. It’s a lot of fun to see actors playing versions of themselves, entering briefly into the world we have become so invested in, and seeing how they interact with our beloved characters. 

And you really will love them – from the no-nonsense, assertive and unashamedly horny Andréa, to the morally questionable and mysterious Mathias, every single character brings something undeniably entertaining to this show. Just try to look past the subtitles – I promise it will be worth it.

Jodie Sheehan