- How to stream Liverpool vs. Chelsea Friday 6:45 PM
- How to stream Real Madrid vs. Sevilla Friday 6:35 PM
- How to stream Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin vs. Alfredo Angulo Friday 5:16 PM
- How to stream Barcelona vs. Granada Friday 4:50 PM
- ‘Atlantics’ tells a ghost story steeped with emotion and realism Friday 4:16 PM
- ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is a sweet, singular movie that loses its grip on satire Friday 3:40 PM
- Jordan Peterson is in rehab for Klonopin addiction Friday 3:34 PM
- The cat-worshipping turkey cult video, explained Friday 3:22 PM
- Despite legal threats and drama, the Area 51 desert event is on Friday 3:05 PM
- How to stream Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens on UFC Fight Night Friday 3:00 PM
- Twitter just launched its ‘Hide Replies’ feature Friday 1:59 PM
- How to turn off image metadata before it snitches on you Friday 1:36 PM
- The ‘Breaking Bad’ movie is coming to theaters—for one weekend only Friday 1:04 PM
- Teens recorded, shared videos of mall fight that ended in fatal stabbing Friday 12:44 PM
- How to stream Giants vs. Buccaneers in Week 3 Friday 12:31 PM
As season 2 of Netflix’s French political drama Marseille opens, the power structures within the titular city are shifting, but the problems that plagued the first season persist. Is season 2 an improvement over the soap operatic silliness of its first outing? Sure, but a promotion to “mostly competent but forgettable” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement to make this your next binge watch. Marseille so transparently wants to be House of Cards, but can never find a character half as compelling as that show’s rogue’s gallery—even though the now-troubled Kevin Spacey production has often been fairly ridiculous in its narrative twists and turns too.
Marseille’s first season ended with the reelection campaign of Robert Taro (Gérard Depardieu), the longtime mayor of the French city, being sidelined when Taro suffers a stroke. Season 2 finds Taro recovering and his former protege turned rival Lucas Barrès (Benoît Magimel) on the cusp of achieving the power he’s been seeking for so long. Unfortunately, Barrès soon learns the truth of that old Vulcan adage: Having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.
As with season 1, Marseille is a mixture of gorgeous scenery, overwrought characters, silly telenovela plot twists, and a few bright spots. Even with its flaws, it could be a worthwhile guilty pleasure if only there were more of that last quality. Once again, Barrès and Taro’s daughter, Julia (Stéphane Caillard), are the two most interesting standouts of the regular cast, but far and away the most entertaining character this season is Jeanne Coste (Natacha Renier), a charismatic, love-to-hate-her far-right schemer clearly intended as an homage to former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
Coste is clever, diabolical, and gets one of the best scenes of this entire show in the form of her introduction—we won’t spoil the details, but it’s up there with the Joker’s “disappearing pencil trick” from The Dark Knight as far as moments that succinctly tell you everything you need to know about the character. Watching her weave and wile her way through the Marseille political landscape is easily the reason to watch season 2.
Ultimately, Marseille is the sort of show that might have become a hit in a bygone era or a less crowded mediascape. As it is, it’s lodged firmly in that “mostly competent but forgettable” zone we mentioned earlier. That’s the unfortunate flipside of Netflix’s “throw billions around and put out 30 shows a month” approach. Even if Marseille was a better show, there’s every chance the language barrier and the simple glut of other options would leave it stranded well below the radar. As it is, you’re better off actually watching House of Cards.
Still not sure what to watch on Netflix? Here are our guides for the absolute best movies on Netflix, must-see Netflix original series and movies, and the comedy specials guaranteed to make you laugh.
David Wharton is a journalist and film critic with over 15 years of experience. His reviews for the Daily Dot focus on original movies and series produced by streaming entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. He lives in Texas, where he works as the online editor of DSNews.com