|The stars of the first season (only one I will watch)
of Spiral - there is Gregory Fitoussi,
that rarest of French
male media stars - an attractive one.
...for male French stars, being good looking is not a requirement. Better that you look like an aged, post coital rhino who has been rutting in a swamp all night, or if you have a nose like a deformed butternut squash. In L’Homme Du Train, Johnny Halliday is meant to be sexy, despite looking like a crocodile handbag with a wig on. Add Serge Gainsbourg, Gerard Depardieu and Jean Reno into the mix and you’ve got yourself a great big buffet of ugly quiche.This is something I noticed early on in my voyage to learn French by watching French media.
This is one reason why it's so hard to watch French films and TV, even for the sake of learning French - the male actors are almost all ugly AF. This isn't just a French preference for ugly people - the women in French media are beautiful and young. Only the men are allowed to be - nay, expected to be - old and ugly
This use of old ugly men as film stars in France tells you everything you need to know about how much French culture is still completely dominated by men. Although if you need further convincing just read about how fucked up and sexist Cannes is.
And of course the beautiful young French women actors are expected to play scenes in which they are incredibly attracted to ugly old men.
The worst example of this I've seen so far is the first episode of a TV series called "A French Village." It's set during WWII and the first episode opens by explaining that Nazis are invading. Directly after, we see a scene of a middle-aged businessman played by unattractive (of course) Thierry Godard (also in Spiral AKA Engrenages - you cannot avoid him if you watch French media) have sex with his mistress who is played by Nade Dieu who is twelve years younger and looks twenty years younger and is much better-looking (of course) than Godard.
Did I mention that while middle-aged businessman is having adulterous sex there is a Nazi invasion happening?
There are occasional exceptions to the ugly old French male actor rule- the previously-mentioned series Spiral has, in the first season at least, one handsome regular - one - played by Gregory Fitoussi but his relationship with the tough female cop that promises to get serious by the end of the first season (they hold hands in the last episode) has completely disappeared without explanation by the beginning of the second season, at which point I stopped watching Spiral, since without a worthwhile relationship to root for the show is basically one woman - or girl - after another being raped, tortured and murdered.
And there is no big "will they or won't they get together" of unexpressed sexual tension between the cop and Fitoussi's character - the first moments of the first episode the cop mentions that she finds Fitoussi's character attractive and by the second episode (or third but it's very early on) they end up in bed together and go on to have a very casual, no-strings, emotionally muted relationship that fizzles out by the second season. Ugh.
I also tried to watch the French TV series "Maison Close" about 19th century prostitutes but the male ugliness was extreme even by French standards - absolutely intolerable - and by the time I could see the young intelligent woman with a fiancee was about to get trapped into life as a prostitute I was done - couldn't even make it through the entire first episode.
And then there is the series "Call My Agent" which is all ugly older men having sex with attractive younger women - at the office - except for the rich handsome new owner of the agency who ends up having sex with and impregnating the agency's only lesbian. Is it any wonder that sexual harassment at French companies is completely insane?
I've heard good things about the show "Marseille" but not good enough for me to watch anything with fat ugly old Putin-loving alcoholic slob Gerard Depardieu in it.
Why do the French have a reputation for romance? Based on the French media I've seen, there is no romance, just a bunch of casual, unemotional hookups between pretty young women and (mostly) ugly old men. Who the hell wants to watch that, except ugly old men who don't really like women?
(And I detested the Oscar-winning film The Artist - I didn't realize until after I wrote this blog post that it was French - but I'm not surprised.)