Call My Agent, or Dix Pour Cent, is a French language drama set in a Paris casting agency, and it is quietly one of the most outstanding shows on Netflix. The premise follows a young girl from the South of France who gets a job at her father’s agency. However, none of the others realise that she’s his lovechild.
The writers are a true talent; the show is politically aware and representative while remaining humorous. A storyline wherein a major actress is harassed by a powerful media mogul at the Cannes Film Festival is chilling in the light of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo. The show handles this very well; the actress manages to extricate herself, but there is no clean and tidy resolution. Despite her escape, you can still feel the threat hanging over the episode, like a shark in the water. Much in the same way, there are no easy answers to the typecasting of a young mixed-race actress. When she finally receives a role that doesn’t stereotype her, it’s highly sexualised. LGBTQ+ representation is a tour de force, too. A leading female casting agent is openly gay, sadly a rare thing to see on television. Yet despite her occasional trysts with men, it doesn’t come across as ignorant or homophobic, rather understanding of the millennial view on sexuality as fluid. I was hugely impressed at the nuance of the writing here.
The characters are just as lovingly crafted as the storylines. Fanny Sidney as Camille Valentini is sweet, shy, and remarkably steely in her new job. Camille Cottin stuns as Andréa Martel, a wily, established agent and a lesbian lothario, whose emotional coldness comes back to trip her up later in the series. Grégory Montel is quietly winning as Gabriel Sarda, an agent often overlooked by his seniors, a hard worker with a gentle personality who becomes involved with Stéfi Celma as Sofia Leprince, harangued receptionist who dreams of being an actress. Nicholas Maury plays Hervé André-Jezak, an experienced assistant, who is also gay, who provides the majority of the comic relief; a lovely mixture of tart sharpness and wide eyed emotional vulnerability. When seeing a colleague slumped on a sofa in the depths of despair, he looks on, taken aback, then finally offers “carrot juice?”
The minor roles in Call My Agent are just as good. You can’t help but laugh at Laure Calamy as Noémie Leclerc, the breathy, nosy office gossip who runs around after her boss, desperate to please. But Lilliane Rovère as Arlette Azémar is the real star of the show, a hard baked old agent who stalks around the office with a grizzled scowl and her precious dog, Jean Gabin. She’s worked with anyone and everyone and often comes up with useful titbits of information to help her colleagues out of tight spots. Hilariously jaded yet a softie at heart, she can be counted on to give sage counselling to her younger co-workers. It’s lovely to see such a well-rounded role, especially for an older actress.