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Throwback Thursday - Call My Agent - Cécile

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

First of all, I did not pick this episode in a fit of narcissism in order to have my name in the review, but because it's 1. excellent 2. the pilot of the show. Now, Call My Agent is a French show, but please don't let the subtitles deprive you of its greatness. Call My Agent delves into the wild happenings of the acting world, behind the scenes style from the talent agency perspective. ASK is one of France's major (fictional) agencies, and the show follows four of its agents as they navigate the difficult waters of clients (the actors), contracts (the bigger the better), and stolen scripts (it happens).
Full disclosure, I watch it in French so any quotes in this post will be from my translation and probably not exactly what the dubbed version provides, but the gist will (hopefully) be similar.

As the camera pans over Paris' unique streets surrounding the Louvre, the episode starts with ASK's founder setting off for a well-earned vacation, leaving Andrea, Gabriel, Arlette, and Mathias to rule over their talent roster. The subject of this episode is (unfortunately) not Biscotte, a well meaning horse who has the exciting opportunity of having a celebrity learn how to ride atop her, but Cécile de France, a very in demand French actress. As part of Gabriel's talents, she's getting horse riding lessons, and is simulatenously not doing great at it, and also missing an important interview and photoshoot, much to Gabriel's despair.
"NO PHONE CALLS ON BISCOTTE!"
"Um, we're, we're going through the woods, I can't hear you!"
Biscotte cheerfully drags Cécile along on a not very graceful trot, as she tries to deflect Gabriel's call and arrives sweaty to her photoshoot. Because she's Cécile de France though, one whirl and she's fully the movie star, ready to wow any audience.
I'm not sure if "off the record" truly works with journalists, but Cécile de France reveals that she's in line for a role in the new Tarantino movie (hence the horseback riding lessons), and she's very, very excited. Unfortunately, the role isn't quite yet confirmed and Gabriel is having a hard time getting a firm response from Miranda Jones, his Tarantino liaison. Alas, when he finally gets it, the answer is definitely not what he wanted to hear. Tarantino is going in "another direction" with the role, and he's aiming to cast someone... younger. In the episode, Cécile de France just turned 40, and it's an especially low blow. Meaning Gabriel hems and haws and basically runs away instead of telling her.

Back at the agency, Andrea's assistant is just about done and quits on the spot (who can blame her), meaning Andrea needs a new one. Enter: Camille, Mathias' "hidden" daughter who grew up in the South of France, far away from his family. Unsurprisingly, Mathias is not particularly delighted to see her trying to make a living in the world of cinema, right where his wife could meet her. He tries to shoo her away, but when the assistant spot opens up, Camille swoops in and takes it, unbeknownst (at first) to Mathias. Despite the insane demands (calls at every which hour, even on the week-ends, no private life whatsoever, etc.), Camille doesn't seem daunted and starts right then and there. Nicolas, Gabriel's assistant, give her a little tour of the offices, including one of the gift closet (which I'd like to get into one day please and thank you), and the general rundown of who's sleeping with whom.
Cécile isn't taking too kindly to being ignored by Gabriel, then being hung up on by Nicolas, and she finally shows up at the office. Now, Gabriel has been instructed to give basically any excuse a part from the age one, as to why she lost the role, and he comes up with a gender switch, which... I mean, Hollywood would definitely go there if it could, but still. Which is when Camille makes her second mistake (after accepting the job): euphoric at finally being in the industry, she shares an elevator ride with Cécile de France as she makes her way out, and gushes about how it's nonsense that Tarantino would reject her for her age, and that she looks GREAT. Which, she does, but Cécile's face and tone say pretty much everything, while Camille prattles innocently along. I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of Camille, neither now nor later in the series, and she keeps making the kinds of mistakes that would have gotten her fired in a realistic setting. Camille tries to repair her disastrous first day by getting the numbers Andrea asked of her (how much one of Mathias' actors is making on a movie in which Andrea also has someone from her roster), by snooping in Mathias' office, which Noemie promptly cuts short. Speaking of, Noemie is 1. obviously in love with her married boss 2. jealous of his daughter because since she doesn't know about that particular detail, she thinks they're sleeping together.
"Mathias would whip me if he learned about that!"
Noemie clearly trying to manifest some kind of sexual scenario involving Mathias and Cécile's riding equipment, while an irrate Gabriel learns that someone has revealed to Cécile de France the age debacle, and he is feeling nostalgic and protective of her and her career.
"I mean, I watched her grow up..."
"Um, isn't he younger than her?!"
Andrea swoops in and saves Gabriel from himself by taking him to a bar, where they each go on the hunt for the prettiest girl they can find. Meanwhile, Mathias is wining and dining Miranda Jones, the infamous liaison to the Tarantino. After a few platitudes of convenience, he kindly reminds her that he has friends in high places, and ultimately no Cécile would mean no filming in Paris. Having smoothed other that hurdle, he then makes a stop at Cécile's place (where does she live, in Paris intramuros, that comes with an actual garden?!). On the street, he runs into another agent from a rival agency, with whom Cécile is toying. Seeing Mathias, who is very elegantly dressed in a winter coat, full suit, and fancy shoes, pushing a wheelbarrow on a muddy weekday is an image I will cherish for a while. Having won Cécile over by saying the Tarantino is back on the table, he then has to let her know the condition: the studio wants her to have some light remodeling of her face, in order to look 30 and not 40. Mathias, ever the smarmy agent, actually has switched a picture of his wife from (probably) ten years ago, to show Cécile how natural and amazing it actually looks, even detailing the list of procedures (when did he come up with this and how often does he trot this little strategy out?!). It doesn't take much more for Cécile to agree, and book an appointment at Mathias' wife's doctor.
Gabriel isn't having a great time since Cécile left him for another agent, and is in fact inhaling whipped cream directly from the bottle as he watched what I assume is some kind of casting pitch from an actress whose acting likely won't win her any awards, but whose physique might get her into perfume ads. When he learns about the cosmetic procedure, he leaps onto (no, not Biscotte) his little red scooter and drives off straight to the stables, where Cécile is still struggling to learn a basic command. Gabriel apparently didn't know quite how bad she was at riding before seeing the spectacle for himself, which contributes to Cécile forgiving him, because in the end he's the agent she really trusts with her wellbeing. He even promises to drive her to the doctor's office himself, since she's getting cold feet about the whole thing. When they do get there though, Cécile takes one long look at the other women in the waiting room, bolts out of there, jumps on Gabriel's awaiting scooter (petition for Biscotte to just definitely replace it), and leaves both the role, and Mathias as her new agent.

Back at the agency, it's business as usual with an assortment of croissants and pains au chocolat in the meeting room for the weekly agent rendez-vous, when suddenly the founder calls from Brazil. Or so they all believe, until an awkward voice lets them know that Samuel actually died on the trip. How, may you ask? Well, as somber as the moment is, learning that his demise came from swallowing a wasp ensures that the episode ends on a very high note.

This episode is truly a great pilot for a show that delivers repeatedly over the course of three season (just skip the fourth, it's unneccessary), with one star per episode, playing a slightly fictionalized version of themselves (think Matt LeBlanc in Episodes). As usual, sound off in the comments!

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