In simply the final month or so we’ve seen a well known actor accused of cannibalistic fantasies and disturbing violations of consent, one other sued by a former girlfriend for sexual battery and assault, experiences that one more was supposedly relationship a pillow purveyor recognized for his devotion to our now former president, and nonetheless one more actor whose contentious fame with the tabloid press was just lately overshadowed by the revelation that his yoga-inclined spouse has apparently been taking part in quick and free about her nationwide and cultural origins.
These are all public relations crises to be managed, requiring a staff of publicists working behind the scenes to guard their shoppers’ incomes energy and egos. Which means: Spin the dangerous into good (or one thing much less dangerous) and manufacture a media picture which will or might not have any foundation in actuality. Nothing is because it appears. Your fave may very well be a horrible particular person — or at the least, very completely different from their public persona.
That’s the premise behind the London-set TV sequence “Flack” (on Amazon Prime) and, to a lesser extent, the Paris-set TV sequence “Name My Agent” (on Netflix). Each share a problem-of-the-week template and painting these jobs as incompatible with a private life. However the gamers on the heart of “Name My Agent” are much less repellent and the present is healthier for it.
Watching them again to again, the 2 sequence work in fascinating distinction to 1 one other. They’re comedies however “Flack” is a grotesquerie, whereas “Name My Agent” takes a extra human-scaled method to pulling again the curtain on superstar tradition.
“Flack” initially aired on Pop TV in 2019, and a second season was already within the can when the present was dropped by the cable community and picked up by Amazon. Season 1 started streaming final week, with Season 2 to reach someday later this yr.
Anna Paquin (of HBO’s “True Blood” and an Oscar-winner for “The Piano”) stars as Robin, an American in London whose job is to place out one fireplace after the following for her high-profile shoppers when she’s not doing traces of coke or mendacity to her live-in boyfriend. She is, in her personal phrases, a large number. However the present struggles to truly convey what’s occurring inside her head, and whereas Paquin makes for superb display screen firm, she’s taking part in such an opaque character that it’s arduous to grow to be invested in something she’s doing, professionally or personally.
Primarily “Flack” comes throughout as a present aiming for shock worth; within the palms of creator Oliver Lansley it feels extra like a group of cynical poses. “Isn’t this wild and offensive and subsequently naughty enjoyable?” the present appears to ask, however with out actually questioning the celebrity-industrial advanced any additional.
The PR agency is run by the impeccable Caroline and as performed by Sophie Okonedo (of Netflix’s “Ratched” and HBO Max’s “His Darkish Supplies”) she is a dispenser of barbed wit and marching orders to the blank-faced younger ladies in her make use of.
They brainstorm any variety of plans, together with one to reignite the profession of a teenage pop star just lately lower from her document firm. Robin’s large concept? Leak a intercourse tape. A pretend intercourse tape, made particularly for the aim of producing publicity and curiosity, but additionally one that may be discreetly licensed at a later level as a income. The teenager in query is understandably freaked out and I’m undecided what we’re meant to assume when Robin tweaks the plan on the final minute — that permitting the lady’s mother and father to intercourse site visitors their daughter is definitely a bridge too far for her? Yay for this second of ethical readability? (The answer they land on, although twisted and gross and nonetheless damaging for the lady, is at the least not unlawful.)
How do Robin and her colleagues really feel in regards to the work they do? Who is aware of! Why are they even on this sordid line of enterprise? Who is aware of! Robin says she enjoys it, however all appearances counsel in any other case.
Right here’s one other factor the present dodges. Caroline is a Black girl who has assembled a military of younger white feminine publicists to do the agency’s soiled work. That dynamic isn’t commented on and it’s unclear if it is because Lansley as showrunner didn’t take it into consideration when casting the present, or if he merely didn’t have something fascinating to say. Both means, it’s a missed alternative. Skinny white ladies in trendy enterprise put on are in a position to transfer by sure areas undetected, all whereas wreaking havoc and manipulating perceptions and destroying lives. They’re able to do that as a result of they’re given the good thing about the doubt in ways in which Black ladies and different ladies of coloration merely usually are not.
The present additionally doesn’t hassle to discover, past the floor, the methods through which some ladies in energy are simply as abusive to their feminine staff as sexist males. When Caroline throws an apple on the face of a distracted worker, she warns: “Subsequent time it’ll be a glass.”
Netflix’s “Name My Agent,” then again, takes a extra generously screwball (and finally smarter) method to its exploration of egomania because it follows the travails of a bunch of brokers and their assistants, juggling their shoppers’ wants together with their very own persona quirks.
The present could be very French; ridiculous however elegant, melodramatic however trendy. It’s worlds away from the slick mega-agencies of Hollywood as depicted on “Entourage” and there’s a satisfying thematic undercurrent explaining why these brokers soar by so many hoops for his or her actors. Conflicts abound and they’re usually the bearers of dangerous information (and without end in search of methods to place off that disagreeable job), however they actually do see their shoppers as folks, not simply greenback indicators to be exploited. Actors might be eccentric, and their brokers are there to clean over these much less personable edges to assist them get one of the best alternatives doable. (The unique concept for the sequence got here from two brokers, Dominique Besnehard and Michel Feller.)
The fourth and last season of the present premiered final week (the three earlier seasons can be found on Netflix as nicely) and the company is, as all the time, getting ready to being bought or going beneath. For one particular person to succeed, another person has to fail — that’s the essential premise, which is maybe too reductive and possibly the present’s one actual weak spot. However total there’s one thing so human on this endeavor: To be an agent is to be a grasp of hand-holding and soothing one second, managing private imbroglios the following.
The present facilities across the hijinks of 4 principal brokers — the glass partitions between their workplaces create all types of moments of farce — however it’s Camille Cottin as Andréa (now company head in Season 4) who holds the present collectively. Wearing skinny denims and high-heeled ankle boots, she is a girl of sharp angles each in look and demeanor. By now, Andréa has deserted her womanizing methods of earlier seasons in favor of domestication with a spouse and child, and this development has softened her considerably (exhausted her, extra like) in ways in which really feel true and trustworthy.
The present options actual celebrities taking part in heightened variations of themselves (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jean Reno and Sigourney Weaver amongst others) and it’s a witty deconstruction of a glamorous facade, revealing the prosaic actuality beneath: Actors have insecurities like the remainder of us — possibly extra so — and that vulnerability can lead them down outrageous paths.
Not as soon as are the imperatives of blockbuster motion pictures talked about; the tasks in query are all the time love tales or historic dramas or indie movies. It is a present resolutely in regards to the French movie business not Hollywood, correctly, and it’s portrayed as a enterprise a lot smaller and fewer money-obsessed than its L.A. counterpart.
Loyalties are examined and manipulated, however not irreparably so, which might be probably the most unrealistic aspect of the present. However I discovered the ending — and the prospect of claiming goodbye to this rogue assortment of flawed however first rate folks — unexpectedly shifting. We’re left to consider they may dwell to scramble one other day, however in a wholly completely different configuration. Bonne probability, you charming workaholics.
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