I figured that, if I'm going to be nattering about Engrenages (and since some people have expressed interest in it now), I should probably write a more detailed primer/intro post.
So -- Engrenages (Spiral in the UK/US) is a French crime drama, a little like Law & Order in that it follows parallel story tracks in each episode, the cops on one side and the lawyers on the other. Sometimes the storylines are entirely (or mostly) separate; sometimes they converge. On a side note, one of the things that's really fascinating to me about the show is how differently the French criminal justice system works from the American one, which is patterned generally after England's. Here, we maintain as strict a separation as possible between the investigative and the legal side; there, judges and prosecutors are actively involved in investigating cases, and visit crime scenes, consult with the investigating officers while the case is ongoing, and so forth.
At least, well, according to the show. It is television after all.
The first four seasons are streaming on Hulu
; the fourth season is also on Netflix. The fifth and current season seems to be on Youtube, at least for now.
As I mentioned in my other post, the show is dark, brutal, often very depressing, and unflinching in what it will actually show onscreen (such as an autopsy on a week-old corpse or a suspect eating his own feces to hide evidence). I've gravitated hard to the cop side of the show, because while admittedly this is where most of the really disgusting stuff happens, I also realized that about 90% of what was making me ragey about the show, including multiple (at least three, that I can think of) fake rape storylines and a ton of social climbing and backstabbing subplots, was all happening on the lawyer side, so by skipping those scenes, I enjoy the show a lot better. I still like the characters on the lawyer and judge side -- well, they aren't all precisely likable
, but even the unlikable ones are interesting -- but the biggest thing that drew me to the cops is that, even though they spend a lot of time being genuinely awful to each other, they like and care about each other, and have each other's backs most of the time.
So for me, the show is pretty much all about these three bozos:
One of the things I like about it in particular is that Laure, the main female character, is the boss; she's a police captain, and the guys are lieutenants under her. And this is never a problem for any of them, which is especially cool given how incredibly macho the entire police-station atmosphere is -- one of the first things we see Laure doing in the first episode is chewing out a member of her team who got sick during an autopsy. There's also a ton of sexism around; this is another thing the show is fairly unflinching about. But "her" guys genuinely like and respect her, and don't mind taking orders from her, even though she is in some ways a very difficult person to work for. I am all over that dynamic.
As the series goes along, the cop team gets fleshed out a bit more, with more named, recurring police characters. I have a certain fondness for Amina, the one on the left here, if only because it's nice to have another woman on the team:
Under the cut, a little more about the main three. No major spoilers; a few minor ones.( More about Team Laure - with pictures )
ETA: A couple of additional Engrenages links: a Guardian article on the show and Laure's character
that I enjoyed reading, and this short rec post for the show
that I stumbled across while imagesearching pictures, which gives you ALL the characters instead of my highly biased version above. (As noted, I do like the others! I'm just terribly partial to the cops.)