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Iâ€™ve had a lot on my plate, both figuratively and literally over the past few months. I donâ€™t know about you, but when Iâ€™m stressed, reflective, pensive or simply pooped, about the only thing that gives me some sense of pleasure is watching endless hours of either TV shows or movies and eating comfort food. I admit this lack of discipline or physical activity and the resulting emotional lethargy has a tendency to make me feel just a tad guilty. But sometimes itâ€™s not enough to sufficiently sway my conscience into meaningful action.
Enter the magical realm of Netflix.
While there was a time when I looked forward to receiving my latest movie via a red envelope in the mailbox, a couple of years ago I decided I wasnâ€™t getting enough bang for my buck, so I opted to just have the streaming membership. For a mere $7.99 a month I can morph from couch potato to couch cushion in nothing flat. And trust me, there is nothing flat about me at the moment.
Up until recently, I often had whole months where I would feel like even the $7.99 was a waste of money because I wasnâ€™t watching anything on Netflix to warrant the expense. And then House of Cards made its debut. Iâ€™ve been a Kevin Spacey fan for years, so having the opportunity to see him turn his opponents into political schnooks was just what the doctor ordered. His character gives a face to greed and the abuse of power that is right in line with how Iâ€™ve been feeling about, well, greed and the abuse of power. So I soaked up Season One like someone who was dying of episodic thirst, and found that when Mr. Spacey faced the camera and shared some horrific homily for the final episode of 2013, I was left wanting more.
I quickly found some offerings from the BBC that Iâ€™d somehow managed to miss when they first appeared, so it wasnâ€™t long before I was completely absorbed in Call the Midwife. Faster than you can say, “We need some hot water and towels,” I was enthralled with Chummy, Cynthia Miller, Jenny Lee, Sister Monica Joan, Sister Julienne and just about anyone else who happened on the scene. My only problem? At the moment, only the first two seasons are available for viewing, and try as I did, I couldnâ€™t help but push â€¦ my way through those in record time.
Now what do I do? I couldnâ€™t handle Breaking Bad on regular television, so that wasnâ€™t a viable option on Netflix. Over the next few weeks I sampled all sorts of great programs and television series only to be distressed when I ran out of viewable episodes. What do you mean, Iâ€™ve watched every available installment of Portlandia? How is it possible that
Top of the Lake only had one season (granted, I was never quite sure I understood Top of the Lake, I mean, what’s up with Holly Hunter? But maybe I just needed a few more seasons to make that call)?
And then it happened. I saw a review of a French television program called Engrenages (Spiral). I was warned that it was subtitled, but in my mood, the idea of trying to read what everyone is saying in letters that are impossible to see because they are in a color that completely gets lost against the backdrop, or that move so quickly my eyeballs twirl, was a good thing. When I noticed there were 30, count them, 30 episodes available, I knew Iâ€™d found my Netflix best thing.
In case you havenâ€™t noticed, the French are very dramatic. I canâ€™t base this on any actual knowledge of anyone who happens to be French, but if you watch French TV, you will realize they seem to do just about everything we do, only they make it seem much more interesting. And nearly everyone ends up kissing someone and going to bed with them at some point. (This is a part of each show where I definitely did not need subtitles!) They also argue quite a bit and say â€śMerdeâ€ť with great abandon.
It didnâ€™t take me long to notice one of the main male characters. GrĂ©gory Fitoussi. Yes, Iâ€™ve devoted an entire sentence to just his name. Monsieur Fitoussi plays
Pierre ClĂ©ment, the handsome and troubled (and for the most part ethical) defense attorney in a cast of characters where looking ethical isnâ€™t all that hard, by comparison. Sure, heâ€™s pursued by beautiful (and even more damaged) women like JosĂ©phine Karlsson and Laure Berthaud, but itâ€™s always apparent heâ€™s waiting for the woman of his dreams. Moi!
Of course, I know this isnâ€™t the case, but one of the things that is so cool about watching subtitled films is just this: at any given moment you can glance away from the screen and completely lose track of who is saying what â€“ or even what is being said. GrĂ©gory may very well be saying, â€śI think this cheese is very stinky,â€ť or â€śDoes anyone else feel like the baguettes gave them gas? â€ť But what I hear is: â€śDianne, my darling, Iâ€™m trapped in this Netflix netherworld. I will find a way to be by your side, if it takes forever.â€ť
Or at the very least, 40 more episodes!