Friday, February 19, 2010

Idiot Box à la Française: Part 2

So, ready to settle down and watch more French TV with me?
By the way, you have paid your television tax, right?
You know - the 115 euro tax automatically added onto your property tax bill? And it’s no use saying that you only use your tv to watch dvds…if you have a tv in the house, you have to pay the tax. (I know this because when we first moved to France, we didn’t even hook up our tv to the ancient antenna on the roof. For about four years, we only used it to watch tapes. But we still had to pay the stupid tax and pay for tv shows we never watched.)

Even you folks that don’t even own a tv had better be ready for a struggle with the French tax authorities. They will definitely send people to poke around your house and verify.
Ok. Now that we’re all legal, let’s continue my list and get you a dose of France via television:

4. Un Diner Presque Parfait: This show is relatively recent (just started in 2008) but it’s excellent for people wanting a glimpse into the « real » France. It’s a game show that each weeks pits five people against each other in a brutal competition to….. have the nicest dinner party. I kid you not. Each night, the contestants gather at the house of one of them and the host gives them a (hopefully) tasty and entertaining dinner. You get to see the host’s home, go along to do a bit of the shopping and then hang out in the kitchen while he/she cooks. As all kinds of people participate in this show, you get to see all kinds of French homes. How people arrange and use their living spaces is so culturally dependant that there is no way this can be boring to someone really interested in learning about the French!
As is typical of many French game shows, there is a large effort involved (making a fancy dinner for five one night and then dining out on four consecutive nights) with very little reward. The contestants all score each other and, on Friday night, the highest total wins the victor a grand total of….1000 euros.
But it’s not about cash, it’s all about the pride French people take in preparing and serving really nice food…

5. 100% Mag-: After UDPP (see above) is over, leave it on the same channel and watch this fast-paced collection of short, easy to understand reports on lightweight topics of the moment. I really recommend this if you are just learning French and/or need topics of conversation when standing around with the other parents waiting to pick up the kids at school, or whatever.
The subjects are varied, ex:
Should you let your teen wear goth clothing?
What’s worse for you? Frozen food or canned?
How about we meet this nice lady who repairs garden gnomes in her spare time?
Should I let my dog date?

Ok. It’s often a bit silly, but lots of people watch it and the French is easy to understand.

Plus, there’s this: I was watching the show a couple of months ago and they did a segment on redecorating your home on a budget. They went into the Paris home of a couple in the middle of just such a process…and I recognized the woman! It was someone I knew back in Ouaga. Her son was one of Mallory’s best friends- in fact, Mal and little V. informed us they were going to get married one day. Granted, they were four years old at the time…
At any rate, it was so funny to see her on tv. I hadn’t heard from her since she left her husband for another guy, moved to France and had twin daughters….the girls are cute, btw.

6. Les Guignols de L’info- This is a good one for people that don’t like to watch TV. It lasts about 10 minutes and does a quick roundup of the news of the day (mostly political, but it depends). The thing is, it’s all left-leaning satire done by huge latex puppets….it’s kind of hard to explain. Guess you have to be there.
The writers are definitely fans of President Obama, and President Sarkozy definitely comes off the worst in all interactions. This is a great clip from the show, if you'd like to have a look.

There’s other stuff on, of course, but a lot of it is very French in a way that does not interest me at all. I’m talking about all the weird « talk shows » they have- the ones where mostly D-list celebrities sit around and chat with each other and seem to find themselves (and to a far lesser extent, their fellow obscure guests) endlessly charming and amusing.
Like this.
Me, I'd whitewash my lawn to watch the grass grow as the paint dries, rather than watch one of these shows.
Some people love the stuff, though, and they certainly always manage to fill up the studio audience for these things. But I really don’t get the attraction. It’s very dull and old-fashioned-like something they would have had on tv in the US in the 1950’s.

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful.
Comments are, as usual, welcome!


The Pliers said...

I love the TV Tax part of your post!

I went to DARTY one year and bought a TV/VHS for watch tapes on. Shortly thereafter, for the first time in our non-resident tax papers we received the infamous request to pay up for the TV. Imagine how bizarre that was when we loaned the TV to a shut-in relative and had to continue paying the tax for 5-6 years now. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Non-French should be aware that it is the vendor who sells you the TV who reports that you own it to the French tax authorities so you will never get out of it!

Joy said...

LOL! I am glad that we are renting!! ;)

And our favourite French show is Un Diner Presque Parfait. :)

Heidi said...

That's totally like UK TV. Also a TV tax (which funds the BBC, of course, so actually seems to have a reasonable outcome) and the dinner programme is very much like one I used to watch there. It was good fun (especially the stripper woman who taught them how to pole dance. Good times, as they say).