As it stands, I don’t have any notes on the trailer for Ten Percent, the first English-language adaptation of the hit French comedy Call My Agent! (whose original title is, ironically, Dix Pour Cent, exactly “Ten Percent”). It seems that this adaptation captures the witty, soft and chaotic energy of the original, and apparently they are keeping many of the storylines. In fact, there are only a few hints at newer storylines, but I am confident that Ten Percent UK will succeed if they drift substantially from the original’s plot. And that’s because this is a British adaptation, call me a snob if you want, but I’m not sure you can trust US producers with capturing the spirit of French comedy. But that’s not the only reason, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
Developed by John Morton, from W1A and Twenty Twelve fame, the series is centered around a major Britsh talent agency trying to stay afloat after its founder dies. What made the original stand out is that every chapter focused on real-life film and TV stars playing themselves. This first season will see Helena Bonhman-Carter, David Oyelowo, Himesh Patel, Dominic West, Kelly McDonald, and Phoebe Dynevor, among many others, as the clients. It seems they’ve kept the same roles for the agents and partners of the firm, with Jack Davenport in the role of the shady Mathias, Lydia Leonard as the moody Andréa, Prasanna Puwanarajah as the clumsy Gabriel, Maggie Steed as the veteran Arlette and, it would seem, Hiftu Quasem as Misha in the role of Camille, Mathias secret love child who joins the agency by chance.
It makes a lot of sense to adapt the very French Call My Agent for the UK, as both countries have managed to develop a thriving film and TV industry … but ones that are constantly under the shadow of the Hollywood behemoth. While the French industry is limited precisely because it has become its own solid (and state-supported) ecosystem, with a few crossover hits every five years or so, the UK’s has to contend with trying not to become the European branch of Hollywood. A theme that, it seems, will be explored with the acquisition of the agency by a very American firm.
But the other reason this adaptation makes sense is that Call My Agent! was gleeful in having the movie stars portraying themselves as utter (but well-rounded) assholes. And taking the piss out of themselves is something that British and Irish actors are uniquely well-suited for … until you mention class privileges. They take pleasure in portraying themselves in the worst light, whether they are beloved character actors or stars of the MCU. Compare that to Hollywood stars, who deem themselves entitled to awards if they put on a few pounds for a role (of makeup or otherwise). That’s not to say there won’t be a US adaptation, because it’s inevitable, and it will be something closer to Entourage and James Corden’s starfuckery than Bojack Horseman or Extras, with storylines centered on how Chris Pratt is missing out on Huge Vehicles because he wants to be at home with his wife and children.
Another thing I’d like to know is if and how Ten Percent will address the post-Me Too industry, whatever the hell that means. The original simply chose not to touch it, even though its last season was written well into the wake of the movement. But then again, the French film industry has spent the last five years trying to pretend Me Too was just another silly American fad. I do hope this version tackles the issue as best as they can; Bojack already provided the template on how to balance the complexity of that and zany comedy.
All episodes of Ten Percent will be available on Prime Video UK and other regions on April 28th and on… sigh, AMC+ via Sundance Now on the 29th.