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Why I hate French “television”

As I posted previously, I love TV (mostly anglophone TV), but I loathe French TV.
The two must not be confused as they are not the same thing, although it might be confusing at times.
There are virtually millions of reasons why I hate French TV but here are a few (beware, long post ahead):


I hate dubbing. This is the worst invention ever made.
A few people ask me why I hate dubbing so much.
I mean, seriously?

If you know how to read, there is no reason why you shouldn’t watch everything in its original version.
Take Oldboy for instance. I do not know Korean, yet every time I watched this movie, I watched it non-dubbed (with of course subtitles). Not only that but it’s one of my favorite movies (along with Children of Men and Fight Club).

Dubbing supresses the essence of the dialogue and everything around it. You may get what the content of the dialogue is about, but you won’t get what it is about really, who it is about. Let alone all the other aspects such as the actor’s intonation, accent, etc.
The same goes for books in my opinion. If you know the language in which the book was written, no reason to read the translation. It also makes for a great exercise for people who want to hone their reading skills.

People are studying Shakespeare in French classes here. Yes, you read me right.

As for the link between dubbing and French television is simple: it’s the same thing basically, everything non-French is dubbed, you don’t have a choice.



Okay, this is technically not a rip-off as they payed for the use of the format. But in my view it is rip-off in that it litteraly rips-off the essence of the show and the result is a dumbed down, pointless version.

Let’s take Survivor for example. Yes, I like Survivor. I don’t consider myself a “reality TV buff” but I also don’t consider Survivor to be really “reality TV”. For me it’s more of a survival gameshow than anything else. This is a long debate in itself but I dislike putting shows in certain boxes when its actually more grey than this.
So, as I was saying.
Survivor (which ironically is a loose adaptation of a Swedish program -this post is a bash on French TV, I love everything else mind you-) is a game where its tagline resumes what the show is about: Outwit, outplay, outlast.

Now take the French version, Koh-Lanta. One of the main difference is an episode length, while the US version is about 40-45 minutes long, the French version is at least double that, and that is for every episode.
Yes, here in France everything is supersized. All the French “TV shows” are actually 90 minutes long, and all the prime-time shows are 2 hours (with commercial).
This also leads to channels showing 2 x 3-4 episodes of US TV Shows in a single night!

In Survivor you have twists and turns, it’s real drama that (again, in my opinion) could sometimes be compared loosely to a TV Drama.
On the other hand we have Koh-Lanta, no twists, with rules quite unclear, poor choice of candidates, and challenges that repeat themselves from season to season. The choice in scenery is also disapointing.

I could go on and on and on again about that, but let’s go to the real rip-offs.

B) Copycat

Sometimes they also just produce shows that are really rip-offs.
For instance C.S.I.
I’m not a big fan of C.S.I. but it’s successful, so what the hell.
We have our own little C.S.I., it’s called R.I.S.
It’s based on an Italian TV show of the same name and the similarities to C.S.I. are endless.
Although there’s one main difference, each season is basically comprised of 5-8 episodes of 90 minutes long.
That’s the French format for you.


Here in France, it seems no one has any original ideas. I mean seriously, our most successful “TV Show” (this is not the right term when talking about the content on French television) is probably Julie Lescaut. If you go on the IMDb you can see for yourself that this show started way back in 1992. Before Friends, E.R. and X-Files!
And it’s still alive.
Yet again, the seasons have 5-8 episodes of 90 minutes long. We have tons of shows like Julie Lescaut, and I do mean like Julie Lescaut, in every sense of the word. Same stories, same format, same concept.
Totally unoriginal. And it’s been forever.

Last but not least my personal favorite:
The remote control
The TV channels

FOX is known to be an awful network, but we got them beat: Meet TF1.
Just to give you a glimpse at the sadistically commercial nature of the channel, let’s have a look at a 2004 now-very-famous quote from the now-ex CEO of TF1 (Patrick Le Lay):
Notre boulot, c’est de vendre à Coca-Cola du temps de cerveau humain disponible
Which very rougly translates to:
Our job is to sell Coca-Cola available time from the human brain.
Yes, he said that.
My main problem is not the fact that he said that, after all it’s really every network’s job to sell advert, my problem lies with the fact that to acheive said job, TF1 (and M6, among others) use, as we saw today, programs of very poor quality, unoriginal, and redundant.
They surround crappy ads with crappy programs.

There is also the problem of how the TV channels treat shows, and that is partially linked to the CSA (the French FCC if you will).
Let’s take 24 for instance. I understand how several episodes are hard to watch, lots of violence, etc.
So it’s forbidden to people under 16 (basically TV MA).
Okay… Now what?
Not enough?
Okay, let’s put the show at 1AM (we’re talking new episodes here).
Still not enough?
Okay, let’s censure half the episode.
Yes they do that, for a TV MA show broadcasted at 1AM.
And that is 24.
They have also done that for Heroes and Lost.

Absolutely no respect for the viewer nor programs not made by them.

And that was why I hate French television.

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