Amazon recently released their new cycle of pilots, or as I like to call it, “Christmas in August, Christmas in August, Christmas in August!” Since Amazon began its TV escapades, it has piloted (pun ABSOLUTELY intended) a program in which it exposes its television pilots to the world at large and takes views and feedback into consideration when it comes to deciding which shows to pick up for series runs. So out of this new crop of pilots (comedies The Cosmopolitans, Red Oaks, Really, and dramas Hand of God, and Hysteria), what’s worth your time and your vote?
If you’re going to put money down on one television horse, I’d put it down on The Cosmopolitans. (You can watch the first episode here for free.) Amazon has had success in the past giving an indie director carte blanche to make a small, well-observed show about whatever the f— they want to make a small, well-observed show about. (Sundance Film Fest’s Directing Award winner Jill Soloway is debuting the first season of her series Transparent on Amazon on September 26th and the HYPE, it EXISTS). And they seem to be following the same formula of success with The Cosmopolitans.
This time, that indie director is Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco, and Damsels and Distress), and his subject matter of choice is over-educated, over-privileged, overly-ennui-ridden American expatriates in Paris (something Stillman knows more than a little bit about, having been an expat in Par-eee himself many moons ago). The cast is a mix of indie darlings (Chloë Sevigny, WHAT UP!), old favorites (
Seth Cohen Adam Brody), European actors (Freddy Åsblom and Adriano Giannini), American unknowns (Carrie MacLemore), and real-life expats (Jordan Rountree).
If the pilot is any indicator of what the show is going to be about, it’s a lot of posturing and party-attending and every once in a while, feeling so achingly alone, like Hemingway and Fitzgerald and the whole Algonquin Roundtable crew but 90 years later. (Fun fact: Hemingway’s great-granddaughter Dree is also in the series, historical relevance!)
So far the show is basically getting an across-the-board “You go, girl!” from critics. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A, and says, “This is the best of the bunch. . . funny, and tender, and brimming with sharply observed conversations that cement Stillman’s rep as ‘the WASPy Woody Allen.'” Meanwhile, over at Vulture, the show is praised as being “Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it’s set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy. ” I agree with all of this. I was super-intrigued by the pilot and really want to see where the show goes from there. I’m interested enough in the characters, but what I’m REALLY interested in is this world. I just want to basically live in Paris as an expat for thirty-minute chunks at a time (or forever, but one option is more realistic/less expensive than the other).
So if you were the girl who during the Sex and the City series finale was like, “Wait why couldn’t Carrie Bradshaw have lived in Paris with Mikhail Baryshnikov for like, THIS WHOLE SEASON?” (guilty and more guilty) then The Cosmopolitans is probably the show for you.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s an inside look at the show: