Thursday, October 13, 2016

'Trepalium' DVD: French Drama Series Literally Puts Wall Between Haves and Have Nots



The June 2016 Madman DVD release of S1 of the Gallic Noir series "Trepalium" provides good weaning off the fantabulous (Unreal TV) reviewed Madman releases of the Norwegian series "Occupied" and the original versions of "The Killing" and "The Bridge."

The not-too-distant-future France of "Trepalium," a term that translates to work, is one in which a decades-old system has the 20 percent of the population that works (a.k.a. "actives") enjoying a very regimented but comfortable life in "The City" that symbolically is known as "the south."  The conditions there sharply contrast with the slum-like standard of living in the area designated "The Zone," which is the fate of ANYONE who loses his or her gainful employment.

The near-future and societal focus of "Trepalium" make it more akin to the Russia-occupied Norway of the aptly titled "Occupied" than the crime-spree oriented "Killing" and "Bridge." However, all four have the same basic elements of everyday people in distress and governmental mischief.

The clan that fill the role of typical family this time is the Garcias. Ruben is a middle-manager at the huge and powerful water company Aquaville, his wife Thais is a low-level clerk at Aquaville and is facing an imminent threat of unemployment, and their young daughter being mute has that child labelled "flawed" and a degenerate. Silas, who is the father of Ruben, is a ruthless Aquaville executive who supports his family so long as doing so benefits him.

Personal and national issues intersect regarding Ruben becoming a candidate for a highly coveted management job at Aquaville at the same time that the newly enacted Job Security Act provides for 10,000 Zoners to commute to The City each day to work. Ruben is assigned Izia and initially does not have any task for her.

Thais soon disappearing because of her covert support of the increasingly aggressive Zone-based "Activists" presents Ruben with the challenge of presenting the image of having a happy and normal family that his desired job requires. This desperation leads to his convincing Izia to impersonate Thais both at home and at the office.

Prime Minister Nadia Passeron, who aptly sports a Joan Crawford hairstyle, plays the role of governmental official in "Trepalium." Her challenges extend well beyond getting actives to accept the new normal under The Act to keeping her increasing defiant daughter under control regarding the role of said daughter as a government public relations official. Nadia further must contend with the impact of an ordeal on her labor minister husband. This is not to mention the mounting threat of the wall figuratively or literally coming down in a manner that is very disadvantageous to Nadia.

Like all good European noir series, the events of "Trepalium" build to a dramatic climax in the final S1 episode. Panic and turmoil are rampant and various schemes are revealed with proportional consequences.

Like "Occupied," "Trepalium" works because it is plausible in a an increasing divisive world in which class war is well underway and a U.S. presidential candidate is calling to build a wall to separate "us" from "them." This makes it good watching in the month leading up to that election.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Trepalium" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,