When Work Becomes Life in “Call My Agent!” and “The Bureau” (2023)

The fourth season of the French show “Call My Agent!” (on Netflix) has just been released, and fans will be dismayed to learn that it is the last. How can this warm, witty series abandon us in such an hour of need? It may be less than dignified to confess such feelings, I know. A lot of fuss has been made about the question of relatability in art, whether we should think of the made-up people we read about and watch as friends. No, of course not, and not just on aesthetic principle. People love to be repelled; that is why we have “Lolita,” “The Sopranos,” and the “Real Housewives” franchise. But there’s no pleasure like experiencingreal affinity for fictional characters, and that is a commodity that “Call My Agent!,” with its sparkling comic tone and sincere heart, provides in abundance. The show has made for excellent company since it first came to the United States, four years ago, and though it’s not a mistake to end it now, before its charm slackens into cheesiness, it’s going to make us lonesome when it goes.

That the show is so likable is itself a joke—a good one. The characters in “Call My Agent!” are film agents, not exactly a beloved caste. They are always demanding, haranguing, cajoling, pleading, manipulating; they live off the talent of others. (The show’s French title is “Dix Pour Cent”: ten per cent, the cut that the agents take from the clients they represent.) Some of those others—writers, namely—have sought revenge by portraying agents as money-grubbing morons, sleazebags, and pitiful incompetents. Remember how Jerry Maguire was shunned by his colleagues after opting for integrity over the big bucks? Liz Lemon, on “30 Rock,” was represented by a small man in a large suit who looked as if he had yet to graduate from middle school and boasted a client roster composed primarily of celebrity dogs. But at A.S.K., the Agence Samuel Kerr, the agents do what they do for the sake of art. Like artists, they are governed by a sense of vocation; they want to pair the best actors with the best directors to make the best movies possible. “We create marriages,” Andréa Martel (the wonderful Camille Cottin) says. “Call My Agent!” is a television show that believes in the mortal necessity of cinema, and that is another reason to love it.

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Really, though, much of what the agents do is try to prevent divorce. They serve as their clients’ babysitters and therapists, their ego-massagers, fire-putter-outers, motivational coaches, and guard dogs. They lie, steal, and bribe, neglect their children and risk abandonment by their partners, all in the name of keeping self-centered actors and maniacal auteurist directors happy. The show’s inspired conceit is that the famous people whom A.S.K. represents play themselves, which they do in fine, divaesque fettle. Juliette Binoche fends off a creepy executive at Cannes; Monica Bellucci, sick of the high life, tries to become a normal person; the workaholic Isabelle Huppert takes on too many roles and has to be smuggled across Paris from one set to another like precious contraband. In the current season, Sigourney Weaver shows up, speaking impressive French and insisting that the love interest in her latest film be switched out for a younger, hotter man. (The show, which was created by Fanny Herrero, pointedly comments on the film industry’s retrograde gender politics while keeping things light.) When Weaver meets resistance from a sexist director, she breaks into a big, showstopping dance number to get what she wants. “Call My Agent!” gives hot-shot actors a way to make fun of themselves while celebrating their medium, and they glow under the show’s arch, affectionate gaze. Apparently, when Weaver was offered the role, she accepted before reading the script.

The A.S.K. agents are better at making films than they are at making money, a problem that gives the show its through line. The first season began with a calamity: Samuel Kerr, the agency’s founder, who, rather un-Frenchly, had not taken a day off in a decade, finally went on vacation and promptly died, leaving the books very much out of order. (A hotel room that Kerr kept for extramarital trysts had been put on the company expense account: French after all.) The agent Mathias Barneville (Thibault de Montalembert), a wily operator with a cracked moral compass and a spectacular head of hair, tried to buy a controlling interest in the company, but the plan went awry when his wife, the scheme’s financier, discovered that he had spent two decades hiding a secret daughter, Camille (Fanny Sidney)—an ingénue from the South of France, who, in the series’ first episode, surprised Mathias by showing up at the A.S.K. offices incognito and getting hired as Andréa’s assistant.

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In Season 2, a Trojan horse arrived in the form of Hicham Janowski (Assaad Bouab), a move-fast-and-break-things entrepreneur. He promised the agency solvency but, hélas!, had no respect for the traditions of cinema. Hicham was eventually tamed and sidelined, but not before fathering a daughter with his nemesis, Andréa. This was a surprise, most of all for Andréa, a committed lesbian. “Call My Agent!,” which features enough illicit interoffice romance to make an H.R. department spontaneously combust, owes much to the broad, antic traditions of boulevard theatre. People are always popping up in the wrong beds, confusing identities, slipping on the banana peel of life. Then they pick themselves up and head gamely off to make more mistakes in the name of passion, professional and otherwise. The purest relationship on the show is between the veteran agent Arlette (Liliane Rovère), a tough old dame, and her dog, Jean Gabin.

Now, in Season 4, the whole operation is teetering fatally on the brink. Andréa’s plan to open a new agency, hatched with her endearing schlub of a colleague Gabriel (Grégory Montel), has imploded. Mathias has departed with his paramour and former assistant Noémie (Laure Calamy, a treasure), for a stint at a production company, and his clients have left, too, for A.S.K.’s detested competitor, StarMédia. (Should they pursue a deal with Netflix? Mathias and Noémie wonder. So debasing, but so lucrative.) And there is a new antagonist: Elise Formain (Anne Marivin), one of StarMédia’s top agents, a shark in hot-pink lipstick. Elise, who has Andréa’s steel but not her spirit, is a classic homewrecker, which only underscores the fact that the office, for these crazy people, has become a family. So what will the agents do, now that it’s time to pack it all in? One of thefunniest new plotlines involves the young agent Hervé (Nicolas Maury), who, accompanying a client to an audition, finds himself cast by the director instead. Hervé dreads what his colleagues will think when he tells them that he’s gone over to the other side and become an actor, one of them. When he finally confesses the truth, the scene is a sly pastiche of a coming out. He needn’t have worried. More actors means more agents. Everyone will be just fine.

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What a relief that the United States, which has for so long exported itself around the world in the form of television, has finally begun to take an interest in TV from abroad. Lately, friends both online and off seem to be talking about another French show, “The Bureau” (on Sundance Now), created by Eric Rochant. If you have been singing the show’s praises for years, chapeau. If you haven’t yet seen it, stop reading and go watch; it’s that good.

“The Bureau,” too, deals with the fierce bonds of office life and the seductive thrills of acting, though it concerns performance of a very different kind. The show’s title refers to the bureau des légendes—a fictional undercover operation run by France’s foreign-intelligence service, the D.G.S.E. At the show’s start, Guillaume Debailly, an agent with the code name Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz), has just returned home from a mission to Syria, where he lived, for six years, as a French teacher called Paul Lefebvre, gathering information and making contacts under the eye of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. But Guillaume discovers that it’s not so easy to break character, especially once his lover from Damascus, the historian Nadia El Mansour (Zineb Triki), arrives in Paris to attend secret talks between the Syrian government and the opposition. At great cost to his colleagues, and to his country (let this serve as a reminder that one should keep a healthy distance from the C.I.A.), Guillaume clings to the fiction of being Paul—though who’s to say at what point a role, played with total conviction, crosses over and becomes the truth?

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Following in the tradition of John leCarré, “The Bureau” succeeds both as an exemplary spy drama and as a critique of the same: it detonates the genre from within. We are taken, among other places, to Iran, where an operation to scope out nuclear progress is under way; to a brutal ISIS encampment; and to Moscow, where hackers do their hacking and the Cold War rivalries are alive and well. Our palms sweat; our hearts pound. And, like Guillaume, we fall in love—with him (Kassovitz, taut as a strung bow, is perfect in the role), and with his colleagues at the dingy, half-lit offices of the D.G.S.E., the smart, dedicated people who have to clean up his mess. But are the bureau’s missions crucial to global security, or does all this elaborate playacting merely give the agents the chance to be part of the drama somewhere else?

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Le Carré gave us a West that, without an ideology to guide it, had lost its ideals. The France of “The Bureau,” meanwhile, doesn’t entirely understand the force of the ideology that it’s up against. One of the show’s strongest plots deals with the bureau’s attempts to track down radicalized French citizens who have gone abroad to fight for ISIS before they return to sow terror at home. There is a kind of grim revulsion among the older guard—how can French people do this? (The ugly question goes unasked: How can these people be French?) A sting is arranged. Pretending to be a lawyer, the agent Raymond Sisteron (Jonathan Zaccaï) offers to help the desperate sister of a jihadist in the hope that she will lead him to her brother in Iraq. The woman is a nurse, a pious Muslim and a caring soul. Sisteron likes her; he thinks he can win her trust. It never occurs to him that she has spent her own life forced to wear a mask, and is only waiting for the chance to take it off.♦

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FAQs

Why did Call My Agent end? ›

Is Call My Agent returning for a fifth season? The French comedy-drama was originally set to end after its fourth series, with the writers saying they felt they had told the story through to its conclusion.

Is Matthias in Season 4 of Call My Agent? ›

Anchoring the plot are the four shareholders in the agency: Andréa (Camille Cottin), Mathias (Thibault de Montalembert), Gabriel (Grégory Montel) and Arlette (Liliane Rovère).

How realistic is Call My Agent? ›

Are the stories in the series based on real events? Most of the storylines around the talent did really happen, but not to the guests in the series.

Why is Call My Agent popular? ›

The show, she said, was so big because it was “set in a milieu we don't know well but would like to; because the agents are sympathetic and passionate and people like them even more than the guest stars; because it's very French – it's in Paris, it has office love affairs … And because it's on Netflix.”

How do you know when to leave an agent? ›

The actor and the agent are a team: working together to achieve a goal. That goal is your success and, in particular, what success looks like for you. If they refuse to meet with you, the meeting goes poorly, or you just get the vibe that this relationship is not going to work—then it is time to look at moving on.

What does agent status mean? ›

Phrase: Agent Status. Definition: The current status of an agent, such as Available, Busy, Unavailable, After Call Work, Off-Phone Work, etc.

Why did the s4 stranger split? ›

By having “Stranger Things” episodes separated by a month or so, Netflix gets two bites at the apple, markets the same season twice and keeps the show top of mind for its viewers. This isn't the first time Netflix has split up a series.

Do Max and Lucas get back together s4? ›

Warning: spoilers ahead. Max, played by Sadie Sink, and Lucas, played by Caleb McLaughlin, originally get together on the Netflix series in season 2, but fans were disappointed to see that the iconic couple broke up in season 4!

Does Andrea have a baby in Call My Agent? ›

What the show's marketing all too rarely shows off is that, from its first episode, Call My Agent also unapologetically centers queer characters and stories through the storyline of Andréa, the workaholic agent who gets pregnant, has a baby, and struggles to finds herself as a mother.

Are the actors in Call My Agent playing themselves? ›

'Ten Percent') is a French comedy-drama television series that premiered on France 2 on 14 October 2015. The series depicts talent agents at the fictional agency ASK (Agence Samuel Kerr) and their relationships with their actor clients, who are real, mainly French, celebrities playing themselves. Call My Agent!

Is Ten Percent as good as Call My Agent? ›

But what do viewers make of Ten Percent? While many viewers on social media expressed apprehension at how Ten Percent would match up to the original, the remake is earning plenty of praise from both fans of Call My Agent! and newcomers alike.

Is Ten Percent a copy of Call My Agent? ›

Ten Percent, the British remake of French cult comedy Call My Agent, is now streaming on Prime Video. Call My Agent! was one of the breakout TV hits of lockdown with word of mouth about the French comedy making it a surprise hit on Netflix.

What should I watch after calling my agent? ›

5 French TV series to watch if you liked Call My Agent!
  • Speakerine. Just like Call My Agent! ...
  • Laëtitia. Featured, just like Call My Agent! in the New York Times' list of the best TV shows of 2021, Laëtitia is most probably the best French mini-series of the past 10 years. ...
  • Les simone.
17 Dec 2021

Why is it called agent? ›

agent (n.)

late 15c., "one who acts," from Latin agentem (nominative agens) "effective, powerful," present participle of agere "to set in motion, drive forward; to do, perform; keep in movement" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

Why do people get agents? ›

Agents book you for roles and auditions, while managers help you establish your brand and advance your career. Agents work for talent agencies that are licensed by the state, which gives them the legal right to solicit employment for their clients and negotiate contracts.

Why do agents leave experience? ›

Low Revenue Share

Another reason why Agents leave eXp Realty is because they're not seeing the income potential they were promised. Under the current plan, a real estate agent would only receive 80% of their commissions until they reached an annual cap of $16,000. After that, they would keep 100% of their commissions.

How do I keep my agent engaged? ›

6 Ways to Keep Your Call Center Agents Engaged
  1. Start with company culture. Organizational culture and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. ...
  2. Focus on values and seek feedback. ...
  3. Paint the bigger picture. ...
  4. Invest in technology that supports engagement. ...
  5. Make it a game. ...
  6. Foster team collaboration.
7 Oct 2022

How do you retain your agent? ›

These seven strategies can help.
  1. #1: Invest in their development. ...
  2. #2: Give them the tech they need to succeed. ...
  3. #3: Offer support. ...
  4. #4: Keep them abreast of trends and changes. ...
  5. #5: Create a great work environment. ...
  6. #6: Focus on culture. ...
  7. #7: Build their brand. ...
  8. The bottom line.
7 Apr 2021

What are the 4 types of agents? ›

The Four Main Types of Agent
  • Artists' agents. An artist's agent handles the business side of an artist's life. ...
  • Sales agents. ...
  • Distributors. ...
  • Licensing agents.

What are the 3 duties of an agent? ›

Agents generally have the following duties to the principal: Loyalty, Care, Obedience, and Accounting.

What are the three types of agents? ›

In general, there are three types of agents: universal agents, general agents, and special agents.

Who does will Byers have a crush on s4? ›

In season four, a new aspect of Will emerged more fully; the teenager from Hawkins appeared to have a crush on his friend Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), and now Noah is confirming that Will is indeed gay and in love with Mike.

Who is the villain in s4 Stranger Things? ›

Who is Vecna? The big bad of Stranger Things season 4 is a humanoid monster with black skin and movable vines that protrude from his entire body. While he lives in the Upside Down, Vecna can psychically reach into the human world, kind of like the Mind Flayer's connection with Will.

Is Vecna the mind Flayer? ›

Vecna revealed in season four, he was the one who created the Mind Flayer after Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) banished him to the Upside Down. All this time, the Mind Flayer was Vecna, who was using the entity to carry out his orders and speaking through the creature.

Is Lucas in love with Max? ›

In the exact right moment, it becomes clear just how well they know each other. The duo end up clinging to one another, recognizing how close they came to losing someone they care about deeply. Still, it's not like Max and Lucas are declaring their undying love for each other — just yet, at least.

Why did Max leave Lucas? ›

Lucas is actively moving on and trying to find the new him and wanting happiness and something new and exciting and to be cool, and Max is not ready to do that. She doesn't want to do it.

Who loves Max in Stranger Things? ›

Max grew romantically attached to Lucas, but had an awkward first meeting with Eleven upon her return to Hawkins. After standing up to an erratic and violent Billy after his assault on Steve at the Byers house, Max further proved her worth, stealing Billy's car and transporting the group to the underground tunnels.

Does Sigourney Weaver speak French? ›

I just wanted to say yes in case they changed their mind." The episode, which was filmed in Paris just before the Covid-19 outbreak closed international travel, shows the actress speaking fluent French - which she can indeed do. "It was such a delightful experience," she says.

How do you dress like Andrea Martel? ›

On the other hand, Andrea Martel is a more genuine depiction of a French woman. Her wardrobe consists of perfectly tailored blazers paired with button downs, skinny jeans, heeled booties and an understated accessory like a simple necklace that she never takes off— in true French jewelry style fashion.

Where in Paris is Call My Agent filmed? ›

The actual interior scenes of the ASK (Agence Samuel Kerr) Agency take place in a studio (Studios d'Aubervilliers), but the office building scenes shot throughout all 4 seasons were filmed at 149 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement.

Can an actor have two agents? ›

yes, you can have more than one voice-over agent, but you gotta know how to work with multiple agents and you've got to understand a little bit about that process. Agents are not really thrilled when actors work with more than one agent and it's for the obvious reason: because they're all competing for the same work.

Do agents get you auditions? ›

An agent's job is to get acting work for you, most often by submitting you for auditions through casting breakdowns. They may also pitch you directly to casting directors or other professional contacts for roles they think are right for you.

Who are the cameos in Call My Agent? ›

Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”), Kelly Macdonald (“Line of Duty”) and Olivia Williams (“The Nevers”) will have cameos in the British remake of hit French series “Call My Agent!”.

Who is Misha to Jonathan? ›

Misha has decided to follow her absent father, Jonathan, and grandfather, Richard, in their talent agent career, arriving at London agency Nightingale Hart just in time to be spontaneously hired as an assistant when one is fired.

What is 10 percent based? ›

Ten Percent is a British comedy about theatrical agents. It's based on the French series Call My Agent . The premise and characters are very much like their French counterparts, except the comedy and style have been made British. Ten Percent begins with the arrival of a young woman at a talent agency.

What breed of dog is in Ten Percent? ›

Perhaps Ten Percent's most unlikely star is Stella Hart's dog Mathias, a nod to matriarch Arlette's Jack Russell terrier Jean Gabin in the French show, who gets under everyone's feet. 'He was the diva of the show,' says Maggie Steed.

What language is Call My Agent in? ›

A French Hit on Netflix Changes Its Language and Streaming Service. “Call My Agent!,” set at a Parisian talent agency, was a cult favorite during the pandemic. But the English-language adaptation will be on Sundance Now and AMC+.

Where is the house in Ten Percent? ›

Primrose Hill was once Henry VIII's hunting stomping ground. The surrounding area is also referred to Primrose Hill, with its pastel-coloured houses, independent shops and restaurants.

Does Netflix have 10 cents? ›

Is Ten Percent on Netflix? No – but you can find the all four seasons of the original French comedy, Call My Agent! (Dix Pour Cent), on Netflix.

Has Call My Agent been Cancelled? ›

Call My Agent! Season 5 is under production alongside a spin-off film, noted Variety. The fifth season is in an earlier stage of development at France Televisions.

What to watch on Netflix after Call My Agent? ›

Improve your French with these 12 French series on Netflix
  • Dix pour cent (Call My Agent!) ...
  • Osmosis – 1 season (2019) ...
  • La Forêt (The Forest) – 1 season (2017) ...
  • Au service de la France (A Very Secret Service) – 2 seasons (2015-2018) ...
  • Le Bazar de la Charité (The Bonfire of Destiny) – 1 season (2019)
16 Aug 2022

What should I binge watch after better call Saul? ›

9 Shows Like Better Call Saul to Ease the Pain of It Being Over
  • Barry.
  • The Good Fight.
  • Show Me a Hero.
  • Boardwalk Empire.
  • Billions.
  • Lodge 49.
  • Animal Kingdom.
  • Damages.
19 Aug 2022

What are 5 types of agents? ›

The five types of agents include: general agent, special agent, subagent, agency coupled with an interest, and servant (or employee).

Is being an agent a job? ›

Agents are individuals who are employed by their clients to represent them in various dealings. Agents are usually employed by people in the show business industry, such as actors, writers, or directors. They meet people who are interested in dealing with their clients.

Who can become an agent? ›

As between the principal and third persons, any person may become an agent, but no person who is not of the age of majority and sound mind can become an agent, so as to be responsible to the principal according to the provisions in that behalf herein contained.

What is the benefit of agent? ›

The main benefits of using a commercial agents to sell your goods are: Lower overheads - you don't have to pay for the salary, the car or the office of sales agents. Easy to find - agents are easier to recruit than experienced sales executives with specialist knowledge.

How do you know if an agent is right for you? ›

Firing your agent is a big step.
...
Here are some questions that will help you decide:
  • How long does it take for your agent to return your call or email? ...
  • Do you have a closer relationship with your agent's assistant than you do with your agent? ...
  • Does your agent listen to you? ...
  • When was the last time you spoke to your agent?
9 Mar 2020

What do agents do as a job? ›

Agents legally act on behalf of their clients, a role which carries a weighty responsibility. A large part of an agent's job involves drawing up contracts, informing clients of their legal obligations and rights, and overseeing large financial transactions.

Will there be another season of Call My Agent? ›

The good news is that once the spin-off film will be done, the filming for the upcoming episodes of Call My Agent! Season 5 will start. The announcement for Call My Agent! The TV film was made by Thomas Anargyros, chief executive of Mediawan Studios, the company behind the series, on French radio station Europe 1.

Does Andrea have the baby in Call My Agent? ›

Andréa's boss Hicham, with whom she conceives the child in a low point of the show, initially agrees not to 'claim' the child as his daughter, and okays Andréa raising her with her girlfriend Colette.

How many seasons Call My Agent? ›

Is Ten Percent a remake of Call My Agent? ›

Based on the cult French comedy Call My Agent!, Amazon Prime's new English-language remake Ten Percent follows a likeable bunch of talent agents at a fictional London firm as they navigate the whims of their celebrity clients.

Is Ten Percent exactly like Call My Agent? ›

The first few episodes of Ten Percent mirror the French Call My Agent! quite closely, down to the plot about Kelly Macdonald losing a part due to her age, which was depicted with Cécile de France in the original.

Is Call My Agent worth watching? ›

There isn't a weak episode and with 24 episodes, that is quite something. You will love the episode with Sigourney Weaver - it's comedy genius and what is even more amazing is it is based on real events. Definitely a recommended watch from me.

Did they replace Dev in season 2 of the A list? ›

What changes are being made for The A List season 2? The majority of the cast are returning for the second season with one glaring difference. Jacob Dudman, who played Dev in the first season, has been recast with Barnaby Tobias now portraying Mia's love interest.

Where was Call My Agent filmed? ›

The actual interior scenes of the ASK (Agence Samuel Kerr) Agency take place in a studio (Studios d'Aubervilliers), but the office building scenes shot throughout all 4 seasons were filmed at 149 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement.

What is the English version of Call My Agent? ›

Ten Percent, the British remake of French cult comedy Call My Agent, is now streaming on Prime Video.

Does Andrea go to Yale? ›

At the end of the season, Jesse received a clerkship at Yale Law School and Andrea decided to transfer to Yale as well to enter their pre-med program, a plot decision necessitated by Carteris' decision to leave the show.

Does Andrea get into Yale? ›

In the second half of the series' run, Andrea got pregnant, struggled with a bad marriage, dropped out of the fictional California University, and eventually transferred her college credits to Yale, enrolling as a premed.

How many episodes of Netflix Call My Agent? ›

Call My Agent!
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes24
Production
Running time47–67 minutes
16 more rows

Why is Call My Agent not on Netflix? ›

A French Hit on Netflix Changes Its Language and Streaming Service. “Call My Agent!,” set at a Parisian talent agency, was a cult favorite during the pandemic. But the English-language adaptation will be on Sundance Now and AMC+.

Who is Nia in Call My Agent? ›

Call My Agent Bollywood (TV Series 2021– ) - Radhika Seth as Nia - IMDb.

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