The French series “Call my agent”, initially produced by the channel France 2 and aimed at a French audience, has conquered the world thanks to its broadcast on Netflix. Even though it is franchouillarde in many respects, it still managed to attract an audience as eclectic as passionate. Let’s look at the key to the success of this series and analyze what could be the key to your own success.
1- Don’t try to be like the others
“Call my agent” is different. It’s a series that appeals to people all over the world, yet it hasn’t tried to do what other series do. It has imposed itself by introducing its own style. It is true that it has the same rhythm as the American series in a certain way: the actions follow one another leaving no respite for the plot. However, beyond this tempo so uncharacteristic of French series, “Call my agent” did not try to ape other successful series. There are no explosions, no fights and no endless sex scenes, no. “Call my agent” entered the small screen by finesse and by playing on the best it had to offer: high-flying actors, breathtaking dialogues, killer lines, a sublime Parisian setting, a prodigious scenario in which no detail was left to chance. This French series is anything but a pale copy of a successful series, it is a tribute to the best that cinema (and television) has always had to offer.
Lesson learned: It’s better to reinforce your strengths than to fill in the gaps.
2- Endearing characters: the actor is the key to success
“Call my agent” is above all the success of a wonderful cast. Each character is endearing even though some of them can be dark or manipulative. The raw material of cinema has long been the actor before this gradually changed. Being originally an emanation of the theater, it had taken over the codes, which changed afterwards. This series puts things back in place: a good film is above all good actors.
Lesson learned: Go to the essential rather than trying to disperse. Concentrate on what is most important.
What emerges from this series is a form of innocence in certain characters (e.g. Camille) or ardor and boldness in others (e.g. Andréa). What pleases above all in the story is that it is true and that one does not doubt it for a second when one watches it. The actors seem to play a role of composition, the character they play fits them like a glove. The world of cinema and the profession of impresario are treated with a reality and accuracy that originate from the knowledge of the scriptwriter, Fanny Herrero, of the environment in question. Everything seems more real than life and even the incongruities of the most eccentric characters such as Noémie or Hervé seem timely.
Lesson learned: It is better to talk about what you know than to pretend, people see it anyway.
4- Psychology: a universal reality
If the series is successful internationally, I believe it is primarily due to its ability to speak to everyone. Every viewer understands the psychological elements that come into play. Psychology is a deeply human theme. A story that uses deep psychological springs such as fear of not disappointing, ambition, the desire to seduce, etc. is sure to be understood by everyone, regardless of culture.
Lesson to be learned: Behind every success are universal principles. Understand the root and you will get the fruits.
5- A series shot like a movie
The aesthetic codes of the series are those of the cinema. On the one hand, the length (about one hour) of the episodes is closer to that of a movie than a series, on the other hand the quality of the realization makes you think of the 7th art above all.
Lesson to remember: Knowing how to add an exotic ingredient to your sauce can make it unique and even unforgettable.
6- Call my agent: no superstars among the main players, the strength of the collective
To win a World Cup, you need a united team. “Call my agent” seems to illustrate this as well. There is no superstar in the initial casting. The strength of this series is the chemistry that emerges between the actors. As none of them is above the others by his stature as an actor, we see a group rather than a sum of individualities. The mayonnaise takes well because each ingredient respects the others in some way.
Lesson learned: The strength of a team is measured by the sum of each member’s humility.
7- Call my agent: Careful dialogue
If the series stands out, it is also by the quality of its dialogues, some of which are real punchlines. If “Call my agent” had been a book, one can imagine that it would also have met with some kind of success because its dialogues are well written beyond its brilliant script.
Lesson to remember: Don’t leave any detail to chance
8- The guest actor: bring in the serendipity
What I like about “Call my agent” is also its guest actors. They create a kind of serendipity that we want to discover in each new episode. It’s the strength of the “dish of the day” in a restaurant that makes regulars want to come back.
Lesson learned: Integrating the idea of serendipity into a project in one way or another can increase its possibilities tenfold.
9- Everyone can identify with a character
Fanny Herrero, the scriptwriter of the series, is the daughter of a famous rugby player who played for many years at the Racing Club of Toulon where he was captain. Perhaps she understood from her father that the strength of rugby lies in the ability to assimilate disparate members to form a team. This diversity can be found in the cast of “Call my agent”. We can find freshness in Camille, audacity in Andrea, casualness in Gabriel, sincerity in Arlette, harshness in Isham, manipulation in Mathias, candor in Sophia or fragility in Hervé. All these sometimes antinomic qualities find a formidable expression in this collective that is a series.
Lesson to be learned: Expressing a certain diversity of humanity can help to be understood by a maximum number of people. Not wanting to stay in one register is a good strategy for success.
10- Power plays and class struggle
Throughout the series, we become attached to the characters because they encounter problems that we also know. For example, the natural solidarity existing between the assistants (Noémie, Hervé and Camille) is like a proletarian solidarity in the face of the tyranny of those in power. The political dimension is not evaded in “Call my agent”. It can be felt in many ways. This makes it a captivating and almost timeless series.
Lesson learned: Not ignoring the political dimension of life can be a way to tell a universal story.