The series that makes the most talk in France these days is the adaptation of a soap opera that we know well here: This Is Us. A (very, very) curious bet that could succeed because the result is so solid.
French TV often covers foreign series. This is not a new phenomenon. The proof ? Some Quebec series have been the subject of this treatment in recent years, such as The beautiful discomforts and For Sarah. Of remakes of Runaway, 30 Lives and Plan B are also expected.
But adapting American series is a different story. Especially when you know the enormous international influence they enjoy. As soon as they hit the airwaves in the United States, it’s almost automatic: they are dubbed in several languages and travel to the four corners of the world.
In Quebec, for example, This Is Us (Our Life) is presented in French on ARTV and Radio-Canada, in addition to being broadcast on Netflix. It is hard to imagine TVA or Noovo announcing the start of a home version, while a large part of the public knows the original in all its glory.
Copy (almost) true
Yet this is what TF1 did. Although This Is Us has already been presented in France on Canal + and M6, the country’s largest private channel offers I promise you. Aired Monday night, the first episode looks so much like the original first episode that we are practically talking about copy and paste.
Physically, French actors are almost clones of American actors. Played by Camille Lou and Hugo Becker, the parents furiously recall Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia.
The same goes for their children in adulthood, correctly interpreted by Narcisse Mame (Mathis, the adopted professional who finds his biological father), Marilou Berry (Maud, the overweight personal assistant) and Guillaume Labbé (Michaël, the handsome egocentric guy).
In terms of differences, we point out the profession of the character of Michael. Guillaume Labbé plays a star soccer player, and not a star actor in decline like the one Justin Hartley defends in This Is Us. The match scenes in a packed stadium are also frankly convincing.
Another noteworthy adjustment: two actresses were hired to play the mother, while in the United States, Mandy Moore plays her at 30 and 70. This is a wise decision by Aline Panel, the French producer. Because Mandy Moore as a grandmother with wrinkles drawn in makeup, we never believed it.
As for the rest, we are talking about minor adaptations. In the famous fifth episode, for example, instead of going to spend a day at the swimming pool, the young family goes to the sea.
Of Figaro at Parisian, Passing by TV 7 days and Paris Match, French critics praised I promise you. After watching a few hours, we understand why. The adaptation presents the same mixture of tenderness and humanity as This Is Us.
It remains to be seen whether this new version will cross the Atlantic to be offered in Quebec.