The Belgian series released on Filmin points the finger and mocks the dynamics and absurdities associated with the European Parliament, and it’ll having you laughing along…

From “Yes, Minister to “Veep“, to “The Thick of It“, the tradition of political comedy has given us many great TV jewels, but until now no one had dedicated a drama to the inner most sanctum of the European Parliament. And that’s surprising, given that as the setting for the comedy genre, you couldn’t ask for better: the questioning what really goes on there, the feeling that we don’t really have a clue of about half the crap they get up to, and, above all, its eminently Babylonian condition as scores of nationalities from different countries coexist, sharing their conflicting interests as they do not see eye-to-eye on many issues. In other words, a real Marx Brothers gig sprinkled with a pinch of seasoning of the less honorable vices of politics and essentially, a study into the true worth of some of those who would call themselves Euro-MP’s. All this and much more is available in “Parliament”, a Belgian series premiered on Filmin that takes all the triteness and generally implied about the sillier side of politics and brings them to the boil in a heartwarming satire on the investigation of truth and our need to feel human in a context that does not much lend itself to humanity.

“Parliament”

The story is narrated from the point of view of Samy (Xavier Lacaille, a real discovery), who travels to the European chamber to act as an assistant to an MP whose productivity leaves a lot to be desired. Soon, he realizes two things about his new home: personal relationships are anything but easy, because it seems that everyone he talks to has a hidden agenda; and two, parliamentary activity depends on balances and outdated bureaucracy that’ll be forced to come up to speed in real-time.

As such, from this perspective, there are two sides to “Parliament”. One, the most interesting, is our leading man’s biting parody of political negotiation and ideological battles, hitting the nail bang on the head in the succession of authentic absurdities behind sealing approval on a straightforward amendment. It does so using direct and well-documented language, with gags loaded with bile (the whole scenario dealing with the relationship between Catalonia and Spain is absolutely priceless) on the dynamics between public representatives who don’t seem to comprehend their own job titles, their true functions as it were. As political allegory, it works even better when they approach subjects with incorrectness: in this sense, the scene around Anne Frank is sensational.

Liz Kingsman (Rose). “Parliament”.

The B-side to “Parliament”, perhaps the most conventional, is how it explores the sentimental tensions between the characters. Some, like the German assistant, haven’t been developed enough to represent anything beyond a humorous antithesis, and as a romantic comedy it owes more to the charisma of the cast members (the aforementioned Lacaille and the very promising Liz Kingsman) than to the script all too preoccupied with creating situations to bring the two characters together in space and time. But even here, the series ends up winning you over because the protagonists are so well interpreted that it’s inevitable you end up engrossed in how they deal with their unconfessed feelings, and the ending at least dispenses with the soft gloves.

In any case, the best thing about “Parliament” is that when you’re finished watching, guaranteed you’ll never see the European Parliament in the same light again and it’s all down to the dialogues, gifting us with frameable pearls throughout and also with the creators’ ability  to construct a very plausible reality: yes, MP’s like Michel Specklin exist, and yes, the things they say and do, actually happen.

Pep Prieto.
Journalist and writer. Series critic on ‘El Món a RAC1’ and for the program ‘Àrtic’ on Betevé. Author of the essay ‘Al filo del mañana’, about time-travelling cinema, and ‘Poder absoluto’, about cinema and politics.