May 27, 2016

At a time when their is much uncertainty over what shape our political landscape will take, one of the best political dramas of this decade has made its way onto our screens via Walter Presents, and is still disturbingly relevant.

Spin, shot in France in 2012 (with a second series aired in 2014) follows the fortunes of two centre-right political candidates as they battle each other to fill the void left by the President who was assassinated when visiting a factory his economic policies helped close down

There’s Anne Visage (Nathalie Baye), the President’s mistress and minister who was with him on the day of the attack. And the current Prime Minister, Philippe Deleuvre (Philippe Magnan), who is quick to shift the blame onto Muslim terrorists, stoking the tensions that have lit up in the wake of the attack so that they burn in a manner which heats up his agenda.

As the electorate tries to decide whom they want to see in the Élysée Palace, their spin-doctors go to work, pitting mentor against protégé in the race for both the highest office in the land, and the heart of that land’s finest scriptwriter, Valentine (Clémentine Poidatz).

Simon Kapita (Bruno Wolkowitch) is motivated by principle. He refused to serve under his best friend, the fallen President, when he did a deal with Deleuvre to attain power. Now he has returned from New York, where he worked for the UN, to insure that Deleuvre does not inherit the keys to the kingdom, convincing Visage to get in the game.

But when he tries to get the old gang back together, there’s no West Wing loyalty shown here as Ludovic Desmeuze (Grégory Fitoussi) jumps at the offer Kapita rejected, to run the front runners campaign. And he’s willing to go to any lengths to insure that he comes out on top- financially, politically and sexually.

Over the course of two six-episode series there’s cover ups, set ups, scandals and betrayals, as those with power desperately try to maintain it, while those with convictions struggle to hang on to them. There’s a subplot involving the disappearance of the one witness with information relating to the assassin, while the various aide de camps try to broker deals that will insure the victory of their candidate- or save their own hide.

The female characters are not that well drawn (Valentine is a sobbing, manic depressive and Kapita’s journalist wife is not much better)- and six episodes is far too short a time to flesh out each story. Yet Spin is still a smart, snappy drama that is as inspired as much by the political process as it is by the ploys for power.


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