There is a way to not take yourself too seriously while managing to make a point, and “Represent” finds that balance beautifully. During most moments, the comedy lies in the audaciousness of the interactions between the characters. For example, when Stephane was approached by William Crozon, and he laid his cards in front of him, explaining why the former person should run for President, the nonchalant discussion of class politics had us holding back a laugh that could have been said to be politically incorrect. “Represent” is made up of such moments, and it has been a while since we enjoyed something like this. Also, we are fans of Jean-Paul Zadi’s smile, the actor who plays Stephane. We would totally vote for him. The series moves at a fast pace while making its point effectively and is one of the rarer examples of recent times as to why writing means everything. So, let’s get into the political journey of Stephane and understand why “Represent” is the series we must watch for sure.
Stephane Ble’s Campaign To Be France’s President
The first episode of “Represent” starts with Stephane watching TV, completely disgruntled at the nominations that year. Our boy is certainly not a feminist and cannot get on board with the eco-feminist campaign. The next candidate is a bigot and an extremist, but it is the third one, Eric Andrei, who he seems to hate the most. We understand him because Andrei is probably the most political of them all—the one who knows how to wrap his real intentions in diplomatic words and sell them effectively while hiding that he is just as greedy as anybody else. Stephane is miffed at him because he cut some very important budgets that ended up adversely affecting the community’s plans that year. The funniest part of Stephane being annoyed at Eric’s nomination had to be his video, where he is shown interacting with the community and determinedly shaking his head and saying that “he must help.” There are plenty of satirical moments like this. You will not find yourself laughing out loud at them, but the correlation just makes you go, “I see what you did there.”
Anyway, Stephane runs into him at one of his rallies and, having had enough, confronts him about his hypocrisy and the dubious nature of his promises. What our protagonist must have thought of as an irritable confrontation goes viral and places him as one of the possible candidates for the presidential election. That is when he meets the aforementioned William Crozon, but the meeting only comes to fruition when he helps get him and Lamine, one of the kids Stephane takes care of, out of jail. Seeing the way, he was treated by the authorities and the number of people who rose in his support, Stephane starts thinking. He convinces his wife and officially enters the race. But unknown to him, the person who started it, William, is just using him in a greater game for his own benefit. He plans on using Stephane to reduce the number of votes for Andrei in exchange for a job from the third candidate.
One thing we know is that Stephane is not the brightest person on the block. He is often misinformed and can’t find the right people to trust. But since he and his good heart are in the race now, there is no backing down. He has a few weeks to find at least 500 mayors to support him. William puts together a motley crew for him, with a highly driven individual and another who might probably be reported for sexism. Meanwhile, Eric has started pulling strings to get Stephane out of the race. He knows that while Stephane might not win, he will cause Eric to lose. He tries to get his cousin and his wife to convince him, but these don’t lead to any results. Another arc that deserves appreciation is the way the series addressed the sexual assault allegations against politicians, which are often brushed under the rug. We were so ready for the subplot to go wrong because it is true that most series lack sensitivity when handling the topic, especially when presenting it as a comedy. But “Represent” got it right, simply because at no point does it show the protagonist as a man without flaws. We were not laughing initially, especially in the scene where the men are trying to figure out who the girl could be, but later, when she tells Stephane exactly what happened, we couldn’t stop chuckling.
Also, the part where he has to convince a primarily white and religious village to vote for him is some great writing of the comedy of errors. The integration of political issues into the narrative is seamless. Though the case with Herve shoots up Stephane’s popularity, it leaves him injured. It is funny how fake Andrei’s concern for him looks when he comes to visit him. It takes a certain mettle on the part of the actor to show a transparent act being put on by the character he is playing. There are layers to this, and Benoit Poelvoorde does it beautifully. The story keeps up the pace, but the moment that had us all laughing out loud, a break from the usual chuckles the series brings out, was the part about the email leaks. We know who emails remind us of, and in India, they remind us of two people. But this is not the place for it. In the series, Eric Andrei is forced to withdraw from his campaign after the leaked emails reveal that he is guilty of embezzling money. Two other candidates have to end their campaigns when equally scandalous truths are revealed about them. That leaves only Stephane and the eco-feminist candidate, Corrine Douanier, who “did not use emails to reduce her carbon footprint.” The stakes have gotten higher for Stephane, not just because of these developments but also because Lamine is in trouble. He got into an altercation with someone, and the police is looking for him. If he turned himself in, it could spell disaster for Stephane’s campaign. But another pressing matter that soon comes up for Stephane is the debate with Corrine. He is already feeling disoriented with the entire thing, but Corrine is on her A-game while she easily converses with someone in sign language and points out that the cosmetics they are using on Stephane “aren’t vegan”. Virginia, who is the debate’s moderator, gets a call from Eric, who tells her that Marion, Stephane’s wife, has not been seen for a few days. He also tells her about Stephane’s cousin, Desire, who runs a drug business of his own.
Entire episodes that are placed in one setting are our favorite kind because they must rely purely on the strength of the writing, which elevates the story to another level. Episode 5 of “Represent” is like that. The debate between the candidates is somewhat hard to watch because it shows us the mirror by pointing out the poisonous privilege in the seemingly best of us. Stephane is honest and earnest, but Corrine knows her politics and uses them ruthlessly. But that is not the only thing going wrong for Stephane in the episode. The person Lamine had gotten into an altercation with, Lofti, has come out of his coma, and he names his assaulter. The police come to arrest Stephane, as Lamine was a part of his campaign, and he is suspected of helping him hide. While William tells the officers that Lamine was just a volunteer, that doesn’t stop them from taking Stephane away.
‘Represent’ Ending Explained: Does Stephane Win The Presidential Race?
Stephane is on a damage control spree, and he agrees that Lamine must surrender himself. He decides to go to Normandy to bring him and Marion back, but by the time he reaches there, Lamine has escaped, as he does not want to be arrested if it is not on his terms. While William and Mo look for him, Stephane attends a crepe festival against his will. Meanwhile, Eric is obsessed with finding Lamine and ruining Stephane’s campaign altogether, but his aide tells him that he must focus on his trials instead. At this point, ruining Stephane’s life is a matter of revenge for Eric. But there is a time and place for it. The reason it is said that revenge should be served cold is that that’s when you have the time and energy to strategize without ruining your existing life. But Eric doesn’t see that. Lamine is found, and Stephane brings him back to surrender, but his wife’s words ring in his ears where she tells him that he has changed as a person. When giving answers to the press, he talks about how Lamine did what he did because he was unable to trust the people around him. Stephane signs off by saying that he just wanted the people of France to vote, no matter whom they did it for.
Probably a few hours before the election results, Yasmine told Stephane that it was she and her team who had leaked the emails. She also reveals the truth about William to him. When Stephane confronts him, he claims that he eventually came to believe in the campaign, even though he did not at first, but Stephane is in no mood to hear his explanation. Right before the results, it seems pretty clear that Corrine would be the winner, but everyone is in for a shock when Stephanie is announced as the President, with 51.8% of the votes. Even the news anchor was disappointed with this. To be honest, so were we because Stephane’s good heart aside, he truly is incompetent to run a country. But so are the rest of the candidates, who just look out for their own interests instead of the greater good. It is undoubtedly a moment of victory, though Stephane goes through some moments of shock before the news settles in. As he gives his first address, people all across the country celebrate, and the screen closes with a shot of his brilliant smile, promising good things to come.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘Represent’ Series?
It is amazing how the series managed to stay grounded despite its premise. We have an incompetent, politically incorrect candidate (pun intended) but his appeal is far greater to the people because he comes across as being more genuine than the others who know exactly what to say. If there is a “Represent” Season 2, we would see Stephane deal with the duties of the presidency. The issues that will be addressed are probably international, and the jokes are going to be on another level. We absolutely loved this show and hope that everyone makes it their compulsory weekend watch.
“Represent” is a 2023 Drama Comedy series streaming on Netflix.