After several years of head-spinning growth, the number of TV series submitted to the festival has stabilized at around 400 applicants, from a wide range of countries. The 2024 selection hails from Europe and the U.S., Australia and Canada, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Africa, as well as Latvia and the Czech Republic. Eastern European TV productions have made great progress thanks to the talent of their directors and cinematographers. As always receptive to the relationship between reality and fiction, this year, the Séries Mania festival has taken a step forward to include documentary series.
Insofar as these works originate from different cultures, they immerse viewers in the realm of the intimate and the elsewhere, providing a form of detachment from reality and social interactions. Should we understand this trend as despondency regarding the tensions of our current world?
Making the links
Can the global success of Succession explain why we see so many family dramas this year? Apples Never Fall, Ourika, Hotel Cocaine, The Afterparty and Bouchon all have to do with the theme of filiation. Inheritance is a double-edged sword: siblings often try to jettison it to chart their own course. However, when confronted with unexpected difficulties, they close ranks. What binds them are their family roots, which are more valuable than ever in such uncertain times.
Sex and desire are also the mainstays of several TV series that create echo chambers for present-day questionings. Advocating single motherhood in All and Eva; escaping sexually–and rightfully–from your partner in 30 Days of Lust; feeding artistic creativity from sexual desire in So Long, Marianne; loving virtually and learning how to reconnect to the real world in Dates in Real Life; enabling sex for the disabled in Extra… In period dramas, sex is a way to gain power, hence Louis XIII’s obstinacy to conceive his heir Louis XIV in Une Amitié dangereuse. In Mary & George, the main character is a bourgeois mother who wants her son to become a homosexual in order to seduce the King of England.
TV writers have become obsessed with AI and mysticism. Rematch traces one of the earliest battles of man vs machine, revisiting the infamous chess match that opposed champion Garry Kasparov against an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue in the 1980s. Brought by the creators of Game of Thrones, The Three-Body Problem is an adaptation of the eponymous best-selling sci-fi Chinese novel spanning across decades from the Cultural Revolution to today. This story goes one step further by inventing an AI that gives access to alternative spacetimes, from which it is possible to solve geopolitical issues rooted in the past.
Regarding beliefs, religions and cults–which can be considered as yet another way to transcend reality–La Mesías presents the brainwashing of a woman and her children by a catholic priest. Having explored the insular world of Orthodox Jews, TV series are now considering Islam. House of God portrays the fight between two Australian Imams and their families to control a mosque. Société distincte ventures into the world of UFO believers, how they are organized and why they are received with skepticism. Finally, the first documentary TV series featured at Séries Mania explores the dark side of the Vatican, using archival footage. Welcome to uncharted territories.