Rise of the new French wave

Lupin starring Omar Sy. PHOTO: NETFLIX

PARIS (AFP) - Netflix's Lupin is the latest in a string of high-end French series to become runaway international hits.

Once rubbished for its lack of original dramas, French series have transplanted Nordic Noir as the new streaming favourites, outshining top United States and British shows. Here are the key series of the new French Wave.

Les Revenants

The spooky series often called The Returned (2012 - 2015) won an Emmy for Best Drama for its first season in 2013.

Its deeply original story about recently dead people who reappear apparently alive and well in an alpine village both terrified and intrigued audiences with its mix of horror and surreal suspense.


The gritty police drama - the title of which is sometimes translated as Spiral (2005 - present) - has explored corruption, migration and racism in its eight seasons.

It won another best-series Emmy for producers Canal+ - the French HBO - in 2015.

The Bureau

The five seasons of the stylish spy thriller set in France's foreign secret service and starring the country's most famous Mathieus - Kassovitz and Amalric - have been universally acclaimed.

With plots uncannily echoing real-world events, The Bureau (2015 - present) is among the most downloaded series in the US and Canada, and is one of Canal+'s best performing series ever.

Its success also helped kick-start the hilarious spoof, A Very Secret Service, featuring fantastically sexist and chauvinist French spooks from the 1960s, which has been snapped up by Amazon.

Fais pas ci, fais pa ca

The mockumentary-style sitcom (2007 - 2017) about two very different Paris families changed the face of French public TV with its first season in 2007.

Its title means "Don't do this, don't do that" and is drawn from a classic 1960s song - the series' title tune - about nagging parents by French singer Jacques Dutronc.

US network ABC quickly snapped up the rights to an American version before rivals CBS broadcast Modern Family in 2009.

Fans were quick to point out similarities between the two shows, but that has not stopped the French show from being sold all over the world.

Call My Agent!

Created by Fanny Herrero, who also wrote Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pa Ca, the series about a Paris talent agency (2015 - 2020) has been a comic sensation, featuring cameos from top French and Hollywood stars sending themselves up as the spoilt, tantrum-throwing brats we hope they might be.

Picked up by Netflix from France 2, it also launched stars Camille Cottin and Laure Calamy, who play a hard-nosed lesbian agent and a lovesick secretary, into the big time.


This black comedy (2020 - present) set in the European Parliament was France's lockdown hit, with a parade of national stereotypes worthy of an Asterix comic and some fantastic performances.

Shot in English, French and German, with a killer Brexit subplot, a second season is already on the way.


The Netflix series (2021), starring Omar Sy as a modern take on France's beloved gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, has been an instant hit.

In its first few weeks, it has outperformed the much-talked about Bridgerton and The Queen's Gambit.


The Canal+ hit factory's latest offering (2021) is a pitch-perfect comedy about the investigators of the real French agency that investigated UFOs in the 1970s.

Whether the real French space agency unit Gepan had a pet pink flamingo is, of course, a state secret.

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