By Jen P
Netflix has its fair share of foreign-language misses; most of which, I rage-quit within the first ten minutes. There’s bad dubbing, too-rapid subtitles, cheesiness, and poor production value, with varying combinations of those four main offenses. In fact, finding good films/shows on Netflix that I haven’t seen before has become a bit of a unicorn hunt these days. Foreign language or not. So when I do stumble upon that odd show that sparks new joy, I have to share it with you geeks. The Hookup Plan, or Plan Coeur, in French, is one such unicorn.
Zita Hanrot: Elsa
Sabrina Ouazani: Charlotte
Joséphine Draï: Emilie (Milou)
Marc Ruchmann: Jules
Syrus Shahidi: Antoine
Tom Dingler: Matthieu
Guillaume Labbé: Maxime
Yvan Naubron: Roman
The Hookup Plan is the second French-language original for Netflix, Marseille being the first. It follows the exploits of broken-hearted Elsa (Zita Hanrot) and her two best friends, Milou (Josephine Drai) and Charlotte (Sabrina Ouazani). When free-spirited Charlotte hires an expensive male escort to pretend to be interested in Elsa to break her out of her slump, no one expects Elsa to fall in love with him… or that he might have fallen in love with her in too. What follows is a comedy of errors, followed by a coming of age for every single person involved with the torrid lie.
I’ve included the teaser preview as well because it’s super cute, and it gives you a feel for the tone of the show. Plus, it plays on a classic scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Love, Actually.
What you’ll love about this show:
Couldn’t. Stop. Watching. On a whim, I turned this on to have something playing while I folded laundry (My life is glamorous, folks.). But I found myself laughing through the first episode, especially at the antics of Charlotte. The girl is wild! At times, I thought I’d love a friend like her; and at others, I was glad she was fictional. Anyway, I laughed through the first episode, then the second, and after that I was hooked and finished the series in a day. Be warned, this show is too easy to binge watch.
Well-developed characters and good acting:
Each of the characters is on a different journey, and they are all a delight to watch develop onscreen. The acting and English voice overs are perfect as well. I forgot I was listening to a dub if I wasn’t looking at the mouths. This is the only time I’ve watched something dubbed and did not mind it. I think it helps that the original actors voice the dub as well. **check source**
From the very first date our two love interests have, there’s a connection over a forgotten song they both know “Ta Katie t’a quitté” by Boby Lapointe. It’s a silly song and leads to one of the most awkward scenes in the series, but it carries emotional weight for Jules that Elsa has even heard of it (much less knows all the words), and same for her. A running theme throughout the season is that everything morphs, develops, and blossoms—including the music. Check out some of the soundtrack here and my personal favorite song here. It’s soft EDM. Deal.
The lead is a dorky biracial hot mess, with a yogi-psychologist for a dad. Her two best friends are complete opposites: financially successful vs. broke, prude vs. promiscuous, wild vs. uptight, and one is blonde, while the other is Algerian. Elsa’s boss is a lesbian, and her boyfriend is a high-payed escort. Her ex, of course, is a basic white f*ckboy. All of these characters live together, work together, and balance each other out in one way or another. Everyone is flawed and interesting—and yes, even Mr. F*ckboy has an interesting arc.
This show makes you feel glamorous, even if you’re folding clothes. I feel fancier for having enjoyed a French show. I’d feel even fancier if I’d watched in French with English subtitles; or even moreso if I didn’t need the subtitles. But I’m not planning on learning French any time soon, so I guess I’ll settle for feeling just a little fancy. It’s like the time I watched Amelie and started ordering Crème Brulee every time I saw it on a menu. #FeelingParisianAF
Things you may find off-putting:
*Minor Spoiler* There’s a massive tonal shift from funny to dramatic, mid-season, when the consequences of the lie start to catch up with our merry band of besties. It’s kind of great though, because it makes the show seem more real. We meet these women at their worst, but neither they nor the viewer realize it yet. The trio believe they are living their best lives—except Elsa, because of her recent breakup—but they’re really just plodding along in jobs they hate, failing relationships, and loneliness, etc. But their worlds are about to come crashing down for the better. It’s painful but beneficial, like ripping off a bandaid.
Elsa in the first two episodes:
A lot of Elsa’s “charming dorkiness” isn’t so charming. The awkward scenes were so awkward I felt physically uncomfortable. Between that and the fact that she can’t shut up about her ex, it’s hard to imagine why Jules falls for her. (Though she does change a lot over the course of the season.) But even when she starts to replace her obsession for Max with her budding relationship woes with Jules, the lovesick female crap is annoying. The girl can’t function without a man. It’s hard to watch. (Again, she grows. Sorry if that’s a spoiler.)
Unhealthy behaviors: Elsa is obsessed with her ex, and there are many other unhealthy behaviors present. But… *Spoilers* most of the unhealthy behavior is resolved by the end of the show, though Jules starts to present bad behaviors that he didn’t have before. They all sort-of flip; the healthy characters become unhealthy and vice versa. It’s very much a coming-of-age story for everyone involved.
And here’s one I’m on the fence about:
Though the cast is diverse, if you’re looking for a show that makes bold statements for LGBTQ rights, racism, or feminism, watch pretty much anything on the CW instead. This show is pure romantic escapism, just not the sh*tty Hallmark kind (I said it. I love Hallmark movies, but I know they’re crap). The biggest problems our characters face are love and friendship related. There’s a lot of sex and female liberation, but the deepest political conversation comes when the Algerian siblings discuss non-ethnic baby names to avoid future discrimination against the child. I appreciated the light-hearted romp, but by glossing over big issues, they’re not fixing anything. That being said, I don’t believe their intention WAS to fix anything, but solely to entertain. And that they did.
Despite any of my previous negativity, I give it four shields:
I would enjoy a season two. I’d like to see how/if Jules and Elsa can move past the turning point at the end of episode eight. I’m hoping it will be as much fun to watch as the first season was.
Oh, and here’s a technical tip for you Netflixers: The standard English subtitles don’t match the dub, only the English[cc]. Also, the settings adjusted back to the standard English after every episode, so I had to manually switch it each time. Hearing one phrase while reading another was enough to make me want to set an appointment with Elsa’s psychologist dad.
If you watched The Hookup Plan, drop your thoughts in the comments below. Also, I’m looking for my next Netflix binge, so share your faves. Thanks in advance.
Happy viewing, Geeks!