French TV shows rec list:
Fais pas ci fais pas ça:
Comedy about two very different families living right next to each other: The Lepics and the Bouleys. There are nine seasons so we can see the characters evolve on a really long time period. Some serious issues are tackled with humour, like education, how to cope with the death of a loved one, or how parents react to one of their children coming out as gay, for instance. Most of the characters are really lovable and you easily get attached to them even though they can be annoying sometimes. Also, there are some really funny moments. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favourite shows ever but I had a nice time watching it (though, I haven’t watched all the seasons yet).
Trigger warning: none that I can think of (this show is suitable for children).
Level of difficulty when it comes to French: I think it should be fine (there’s nothing really technical, the show’s about everyday life, so it mainly uses colloquial/casual French).
Les Bleus premiers pas dans la police:
A four-season show about rookies in the French police. I used to really love this show when I was in middle school, and I have very fond memories of it now, even if I haven’t watched it for a long time. This show has diversity and representation: a Muslim man (who is one of the main characters) and his family, gay men (one of them is also a main character), a bisexual woman (also a main character in the first seasons), and so on. It also portrays strong female characters (including a woman in a position of power, from season 2 to the end I think). The characters are very lovable (in my opinion), and funny. By the way, this show has very funny moments as well as serious moments (including the scenes showing how the LGBT characters and the women deal with discrimination at their workplace or elsewhere). The only problem with this show is that the end is a bit unsatisfying considering it stopped because it failed to get renewed (or at least that’s what I understood at the time).
Trigger warning: depiction of discrimination (for instance, homophobia), and of course the usual warnings when it comes to cop shows (even though it is far less graphic than most other shows of this kind, and there are less murder investigations than in most investigation shows).
Level of difficulty when it comes to French: I think this one is okay too. There might be some terms describing police stuff, but all in all it’s pretty casual.
Le Bureau des Légendes (ongoing show):
A show about the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), which is basically the French intelligence agency concerning foreign matters. It has three seasons so far and it’s one of my favourite TV show ever. It’s captivating, I got really attached to many of the characters (and most of them are not completely good or bad, there are a lot of grey characters, which is great), and it’s also really moving (especially the last season I think). One of my favourite thing about this show is its subtlety: it’s deeply moving, but in a subtle and somewhat low-key way. There are close to no typical tear-jerking scenes, with sad music and close-ups on the crying faces of devastated characters. There are really sad scenes, but they are played out with a great sobriety.
Trigger warning: psychological and physical torture (nothing too graphic though).
Level of difficulty when it comes to French: it should be mainly okay, I think. There are probably some technical terms, since it’s about an intelligence agency, but it should be understandable as a whole. Also, many scenes are in other languages (English, Farsi, Arabic, etc) and are subtitled in French, which is really good in order to practise your written French ;)
Les Revenants (ongoing show):
A show about dead people coming back to life in a village of the Pyrénées. It only has two seasons so far, but I’m really looking forward to more. The show is really mysterious, with a gloomy atmosphere that I absolutely love. The dead people (who are from different generations and died at different times) come back to their family/loved ones (when they have some), and no one understands what happened, including the dead people. After their arrival, other very strange events take place in the village. Some characters have very dubious motives and you’re often unsettled, not knowing what to think of them. However, you can’t help but to get attached to some of them anyway. This show has some very serious themes like how to cope with the death of a loved one, death in general, love, family (by blood or by choice).
Trigger warnings: death, suicide.
Level of difficulty concerning French: I think it’s pretty okay… The show aired on American TV so you can probably find a subtitled version quite easily, which is pretty cool :D
My favourite French tv show (and even my favourite show ever). This show depicts the Arthurian legend in a humorous way, and it’s one of the funniest thing I’ve ever watched. The humour is unique, the characters are really lovable, and the entire show is extremely creative: this is honestly pure genius. Plus, the atmosphere evolves from something exclusively light and funny to something that is serious and deeply moving at times. The show goes from episodes that last a few minutes to far longer episodes in the 6th (and last) book (=season). I could go on and on about this show, but nothing I could say would make it justice. Honestly, just give it a go, this is brilliant.
PS: Alexandre Astier (who plays Arhtur, wrote the scenario, the music and basically came up with this entire masterpiece) is a national hero. That’s all I had to say.
Trigger warning: it’s really funny and you’re having the time of your life, and suddenly there is a serious/sad scene and you feel like crying (but it’s worth it)… just be prepared ^^
Level of difficulty concerning French: it might be pretty hard at first, because they speak quite quickly and use weird expressions (but then, use these expressions in front of Kaamelott fans [ie a looooot of people] and see their faces lit up => it could be really rewarding I think).
Apart from these, all the creations canal + (Braquo, Engrenages, Cercle polaire…) have a good reputation/positive reviews I think, but I’ve only watched Les Revenants and Le Bureau des Légendes for now, so I only talked about those ^^
I think many people like 10 pour cent and Hero Corp too, but I haven’t watched them (yet) so I couldn’t include them in the list.