The Brussels job market is at the cusp of a ‘Suits’ moment, as the ever-poignant Franco-German-Belgian production ‘Parlement’ is about to begin its third season, lifting the lid on the inner, albeit fictional, workings of the EU bubble.
Sometimes, pieces of popular media transform a generation’s view of a career or country. ‘Mad Men’ inspired a whole generation of would-be marketing professionals. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ promised a tantalising experience in the health service industry.
When it comes to working in Brussels, the hit-show Parlement, a cynical look at the inner workings of the EU’s opaque parliamentary assembly, is set to begin airing its third season at the end of October and may well be the EU’s very own “Suits“.
While ‘Suits’ glorifies working in law – the show continues to dominate Netflix and has driven a welcome surge in interest in the legal profession, a phenomenon called the “Suits effect” – Parlement surgically lifts the layer on what goes into making the laws that affect 450 million Europeans.
By holding the mirror up to the messy process of EU lawmaking and tying in characters that speak to people, Parlement does something no other piece of Brussels-produced media has done: make people want to be part of the shenanigans.
How come? Because unlike other pieces of “gotcha” media, Parlement highlights the idiotic things that would turn any sane individual into a cynic within a year but also lays out the true beauty of European consensus building – meeting in committees rather than on the battlefield.
Spoiler warning: Take season two’s ‘Blue Deal’. What began as the attention-seeking initiative of the fictional but ambitious French politician Valentine Cantel’s attempt to bolster her image saw a very ‘EU law’ make it past the finish line: the directive on ecosystem service accounting.
A law treated as horribly dry throughout the show is revealed as a hidden champion of nature conservation, which holds the potential to transform the world economy and its capitalist engine.
What floundered in the hands of a lovable but uncharismatic Swedish lawmaker and was doomed to be a sacrificial pawn in the EU’s eternal power struggles is transformed into a core piece of Cantel’s agenda.
To EU connoisseurs, these kinds of laws, bureaucratic and unassuming but with a large potential impact, are part of the beauty of Brussels, and the show managed to capture that spirit brilliantly.
And there is more ahead for the show. Season three will centre on the European Commission, before number four moves into the yolk of the European egg: The European Council.
This broadening is wonderful to see. Even more so are the five million French and two million German viewers that have so far tuned in. Stats for other countries where the show is similarly popular, like Spain and Czechia, are unavailable.
Stats are one thing, but seeing the European Parliament’s Berlin office filled to the brim with young fans for the show’s premiere is the first sign that a “Parlement effect” is upon us – this one show is shaping Generation Z’s understanding.
That in itself is beautiful. “Very few shows in the history of TV had a massive impact on society,” explained Noe Debre, the show’s writer. “Like one in a pack of wolves”, Parlement could become part of the cultural Zeitgeist of Europe, he humbly added.
In season three, Suits spawned its first spin-off, and its dominance continues today.
The only thing that stands in the way of Parlement’s true claim to a similar impact on this sometimes idiosyncratic peace project known as the EU is how hard it is to find a way to watch it – despite it being publicly funded.
Getting into the show is thus rather difficult. But much like the EU itself, making the effort is worth it. This is not a call to pirate it. But…
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Paris and Berlin will aim to clear their differences over the EU’s proposed power market reform by November, the leaders of the two countries announced on Tuesday (10 October).
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Look out for…
Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova receives former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, chairman of the political party European Solidarity, on Wednesday.
Vice-President Maros Sefcovic delivers speech at European Economic and Social Committee event on ‘Empowering consumers on climate change’ on Wednesday.
Conference of Presidents meeting pm Thursday.
European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels Monday-Thursday.
Views are the author’s
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]