Happy Friday! This week’s “global TV to watch” includes series from France, Japan, and the UK that revolve around people with small businesses.
May is Small Business Month in the US, an extension of National Small Business Week, which was established by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to recognize “the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.” Taking it to the international level, this weekend’s “global TV to watch” picks center on people who make the world of small business go round.
Family Business (France)
This series is one of two French shows called Family Business. It isn’t the one about the family with the weed business (on Netflix), but the one whose original title is On va s’aimer un peu, beaucoup. It’s been a while since I watched this legal comedy-drama, so please forgive that I’ve included fewer granular details than usual. Just know that I liked it.
The small business here is a law firm set up by two women, Astrid Lartigues (Catherine Marchal, Cherif, Leo Mattei – Special Unit) and Sofia Lorenzi (Charlotte Des Georges, Mismatch, No Second Chance). Astrid’s daughter, Audrey (Ophélia Kolb, What Pauline Is Not Telling You, Call My Agent!), works here, too. And supporting all of them is Roxane (Clémentine Justine, Bright Eyed Revenge). Astrid can get a bit too wound up, but overall, if I were an attorney, Lartigues & Lorenzi might be a good place to work.
The firm specializes in family law, so the attorneys’ cases involve things like divorce, visitation, adoption, and the like. They also have family matters of their own to deal with, such as Astrid’s fear that Audrey will give up her career to be a full-time, stay-at-home mum (which she didn’t do after Audrey was born), and Audrey’s uncertainty about having a third child with her partner, Paul (Lionel Erdogan, Women at War), while also having to deal with his buttinsky mother, Collette (Guilaine Londez, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) — but especially after she meets the (smokin’ hot) new prosecutor, Eric Leroy (Samir Boitard, Spiral, Black Spot). (Pardon my drool.)
Both seasons of Family Business are currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on Acorn TV and its digital channels, including Acorn TV on Amazon. You can also purchase one or both seasons on Amazon Video.
The Café (UK)
This delightful comedy series is infused with so much heart, I loved it from the off when it debuted in the US on select public TV stations about ten or so years ago, and have re-watched both seasons at least a few times since then via streaming. The show is set in and around a sleepy seaside café in Weston-super-Mare, run by middle-aged divorcée Carol Porter (Ellie Haddington, Guilt). Her adult daughter, Sarah (Michelle Terry, Marcella), who’s now back in Weston after losing her job and boyfriend in London, helps out at the café while trying to get her writing career off the ground. And Carol’s mum, Mary (June Watson, Agatha Raisin), keeps Carol company and the café conversations interesting. (She’s a hoot!)
Every day, the quirky locals pop by for a cuppa, some other goodie, or a quick chat, like care home worker Richard (Ralf Little, Death in Paradise), who still has feelings for Sarah, his childhood sweetheart; florist Stan (David Troughton, Grantchester), who is sweet on Carol, brings her flowers, but still hasn’t popped the question; and Stan’s daughter and Sarah’s best friend, Chloe (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag), who works at the hairdresser and doesn’t have a filter for what comes out of her mouth. The café is a cozy, comfy haven by the beach; the thing is, it isn’t profitable and Carol might have to give it up.
I got really sad when I learned there wouldn’t be a third season of The Café. It was (and still is) a special place for me to escape to. After watching the first few episodes the first time, I wanted to move to a place like Weston and become a local at a place like the café, where I’d be welcomed with, “Talk of the devil,” by someone like Carol, sit at a table by the window and write (sorta) like Sarah, and get the latest bit of gossip or learn something new from someone like Mary. Sometimes I still do. (If that sounds a bit pitiful, pardon me; I can get a bit wistful in the wee hours of the morning.) And to this day, whenever I hear “Beyond the Sea,” whether it’s Kathryn Williams’s rendition (the show’s theme song) or someone else’s, I think of The Café and get all warm and fuzzy inside.
Both seasons of The Café are currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on BritBox and its digital channels, including BritBox on Amazon. You can also purchase Season 1 on Amazon Video.
Pension Metsä (Japan)
I believe this drama series is the most peaceful show I’ve ever watched. From the forest where the titular pension is located, to the life of pension owner/operator Tenko (Satomi Kobayashi, After the Storm), everything is so… tranquil…
The six half-hour episodes center on Tenko’s interactions and conversations with the individuals who, for one reason or another, end up staying at her pension, including a man in a suit in the bushes who is lost, a young hiker/camper looking for a place to pitch her tent, the guy who delivers fresh vegetables with a side of local gossip, and three friends whom Tenko hasn’t seen in a year or more. The action is low-key, the setting is serene, and the conversations — about our need to take care of others, the different ways of expressing kindness, reminiscences about days long past — are meaningful. Besides them, there are only three other characters in the series: the forest itself, a camper, and one other that I will leave as a surprise for you.
Tenko is an interesting character. She’s a candid, seemingly self-assured, gracious, and welcoming woman. All very straightforward. Yet I find her a bit enigmatic. Her vibes, the energy she exudes, feel like they’re meant to keep a measure of distance between herself and the other person while at the same time being very generous and considerate toward them. Perhaps these aren’t mutually exclusive. (The other characters don’t seem to notice this about her, but I feel it as a viewer.) Regardless, I like Tenko. My favorite scene is one that focuses just on her. Chewing. (This must be what mindful eating looks like.)
Pension Metsä is currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon.
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