*Streaming Exclusively on TOPIC – Premieres March 18, 2021*
Reviewed by Ishrat Jahaiara Quazi -A naive intern lost on his first day of work, a parliament full of members ensuing the utmost chaos, all while Britain’s trying to leave the European Union. Parlement presents you with the European Union in a comedic setting as everything slowly falls apart in the Brussels headquarters.
The 10-part comedy series was initially released on France.tv and is now being hosted for the North American audience on the streaming service Topic. Noe Debre came up with the idea and wrote it with the help of multiple writers as follows, Daran Johnson, Helene Zylberait, Maxime Calligaro, and Pierre Dorac. Each episode is packed with hilarious dialogues and a story that follows Michel Specklin’s intern, Samy Kantor, and his endeavors. The characters are people who exist at the European parliament which includes everyone from Members of the Parliament(MEP), to interns, lobbyists, and even tourists who come in groups to meet them.
So let me set this scene. A group of MEPs ripping the EU flag into pieces while waving the UK flag around, streamers, and confetti exploding around the room, bottles of beers in each hand, ties tied around wrinkled foreheads, clown wigs, and an MEP screaming “We’re taking back control!” before falling flat on her face. Seems like the best representation of what it’s like at any government place, to be honest. Already, I know I’m going to like this show because the slow-motion of this whole scene just makes it ten times funnier.
Moving on to Samy(Xavier Lacaille), it’s his first day at work, and he is completely clueless about where the back door is in this huge endless pit of buildings. Specklin(Philippe Duquesne) is his boss, who’s a part of an unnamed Centrist party, and he has no intentions of doing any work as he avoids every worker who tries to reach him for a comment. Samy on the other hand is sort of responsible for any work assigned to his boss if his boss doesn’t show up. When he fills in for Specklin at a coordinator meeting for the fisheries committee, someone tricks him into signing up to report for the committee, a job that everyone dashes away from. To top all of that, he mistakes a lobbyist, who he meets at the lobby, for an MEP who offers help to put some amendments on the report. That’s as forbidden as making fun of Kim Jong-Un’s hair on national television, a subtle joke that works well.
What unfolds for the next few scenes and episodes is Samy trying to understand how things work around there as his seniors also don’t have a clue. Samy stays curious throughout the show and keeps asking for help even though the poor guy probably just ended up at the worst place to learn. It’s so relatable from an intern stand-point and seeing these official members who are supposed to have an idea of what they’re working on but don’t is so ironically hilarious. It is a political satire but, it feels very real given the state of our world.
The comedy style of this show is sort of unusual, at least when you compare it to the American style of comedies. It’s not exactly like The Office(U.S.) or Parks & Recreation because the humor is much more subtle or childlike(when it comes from Samy). I think European comedies, in general, aren’t as explicit as American shows but, it’s still hilarious because I love dry humor or jokes that aren’t in-your-face funny. While watching the show, I realized that I lack a lot of the political context when it comes to the EU and relations between the countries in the union. Many remarks are made among the characters based on where they’re from and it’s stereotypical to exaggerate the political differences that exist. But, maybe they aren’t that exaggerated because politicians aren’t the most open-minded people in the world. They are often racist and problematic so the idea isn’t far-fetched. So, yeah, the American audience is going to lack an understanding of EU politics. However, as I mentioned before, it isn’t much different from governments across the borders. The infinite combinations of parties and ideologies are common almost everywhere. The terms of ideologies get lost on me at times because centrist parties aren’t called centrist in the EU. But, the idea of members changing their views based on conspiracies they’ve read online is relatable and alive in the United States.
The show’s strongest points are the assistants and interns that hold the fort down for their bosses. Seriously, without them, would any work get done at the parliament? The cast of Parlement perfectly compliments each other. Liz Kingsman plays Rose Pilkington, Xavier Lacaille plays Samy, Lucas Englander plays Torsten Muckenstrum, and they form a bond throughout the episodes while tackling the amendments and regulations. It’s fun to watch because their characters are championing these causes that their MEPs could care less about and probably don’t even have any knowledge, to begin with. The constant state of helplessness when it comes to making reports and not knowing who to reach out to is relatable in many workplaces when you’re starting. If you don’t enjoy political shows, at the very least, it’s a workplace comedy. You can sympathize with Samy who doesn’t have a proper place to stay or Rose who doesn’t identify with her boss’s views but can’t find another job because of who she works for. And, Specklin trying to avoid any work at all costs is problematic when you’re in a place of power but, also does anyone ever want to work? It’s things like that which humanize the European parliament and comments on the inability of officials who are making decisions that affect people’s lives. It’s funny and serious at the same time. I don’t know how it’s being taken over there because Brexit is still something people have strong opinions about. But, in the States, it’s fun to watch as we’re looking at it from a show point-of-view and don’t know what it’s like there.
Parks & Recreation is the closest comparison I can find but, it’s still not the same. Parlement is its own unique style of comedy. I love it. I’ve watched other shows from France.tv such as Skam France, Mental, and more. I really like their content and hope that this show gets a second season. I’ve already finished season 1 like two times since yesterday. It’s amazing.
Parlement will be streaming on Topic, a streaming service by First Look Media, starting March 18th. Definitely give it a watch. It’s worth your time.
ABOUT TOPIC–Topic is the flagship streaming service from First Look Media, curated for a curious and engaged audience seeking smart, provocative, and meaningful entertainment. The rapidly growing service features North American premieres and exclusive programming from around the world, complemented by a diverse slate of Topic Originals.
Programming on Topic includes: the comedic variety series Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth; Down from London from executive producer Sharon Horgan; horror anthology series Soul City from filmmakers Coodie and Chike; the dramatic series The Virtues from filmmaker Shane Meadows starring Stephen Graham; Maria Bamford’s discussion show on mental health, What’s Your Ailment?!; and international thriller, Pagan Peak.
Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on Topic.com, Apple iOS, and AppleTV, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku, in addition to Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, and Bell Fibe.