The inner workings of the European Parliament make for both laughs and learning in the political comedy series Parlement.
Parlement, a Belgian-French-German co-produced political satire series, is like a mashup of The Thick of It and Borgen that is set within the European Parliament.
The series follows Samy Kantor (Xavier Lacaille, Validé, Loulou), a young Frenchman who arrives in Brussels in October 2018 to begin his job as a parliamentary assistant. With no knowledge whatsoever about parliamentary processes and procedures, and no one willing (or able) to show him the ropes, Samy is the poster boy for trial-by-fire on-the-job training.
Samy works for Michel Specklin (Philippe Duquesne, Olivia), a middle-aged Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who, despite having been on the job for three years, knows nothing about how anything works here. And he’s not about to start learning now! Rather, he literally runs and hides from the work he is supposed to do.
Which is how Samy ends up being assigned the “report on the proposal for the regulation of the Parliament and Council…” on shark finning, for which he must submit amendments and get the amended report adopted in Parliament.
Over the course of the first season’s ten half-hour episodes, we follow Samy on his journey from political newbie to “Samy the Shark” — including getting hoodwinked by an Italian lobbyist, dismissed by his political advisor, and manipulated by German MEP Ingeborg Becker (Christiane Paul, The Crimson Rivers) and her assistant, Torsten (Lucas Englander, The Witcher), along the way.
But Samy will not be dissuaded in his mission to save the sharks, so he enlists the help of his new friend and love interest, fellow parliamentary assistant Rose (Liz Kingsman, Ballot Monkeys), who works for a Brexiteer MEP.
What Samy doesn’t realize, though, is that he has a secret ally…
Created by César Awards-nominated screenwriter Noé Debré (Dheepan) and filmed on location within the European Parliament buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg, Parlement is quite a fascinating look at how the European Union’s legislative branch works — albeit taken up a notch for the sake of satire.
Set against the backdrop of Brexit, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (in the post-referendum/pre-withdrawal time frame) serves as a plot point in the series, as well, with Aussie actress Jane Turner (Kath & Kim) playing Sharon Redlion, a climate-change denier and British MEP in the Leave camp. Big Tech doesn’t get a pass, either; here’s looking at your privacy rules and employees’ downloading habits, Facebook! Oh, and the thing about shark finning — it’s real.
With regard to laughs, there are plenty, including a hilarious line that Samy utters in a scene toward the end of the first episode — one that every fan of mysteries and detective dramas will appreciate.
Parlement is smart and brilliant and deserves a watch.
And it features an international cast that includes William Nadylam (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), Koen van Impe (Salamander), Shane Woodward (Missions), and Elvira Tröger (Mirakel).
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