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‘Desperate Parents’ gains audience

Critically acclaimed show breaks Gallic ground

PARIS — Gallic pubcaster France 2 may have a hit on its hands: “Fais pas ci, fais pas ca” (“Desperate Parents”), a comedic take on parenthood set in a well-heeled Paris suburb.

At the Monte Carlo TV Festival on June 11, “Parents” took the international comedy producer nod for shingle Elephant Story, plus thesp kudos for Valerie Bonneton and Bruno Salomone. Only Lionsgate’s “Mad Men,” in the drama category, nabbed as many prizes.

“Desperate Parents” features neighbors the Lepics and the Bouleys.

Snooty racist Renaud Lepic (Guillaume de Tonquedec) runs his family — his short-fused wife Fabienne (Bonneton), three teens and a 4-year-old — like a domestic boot camp. 

Left-wing Valerie Bouley (Isabelle Gelinas) battles not to control her 17-year-old daughter — she’s petrified she’ll get knocked up — or become money fixated with loafer Denis (Salomone), who’s jobless.

“Parents,” which has run for two seasons, with a third eight-seg season due to start filming in fall, breaks Gallic ground.

“France doesn’t have many primetime family sitcoms. Police and legal dramas and historical adaptations dominate French fiction,” says Mathieu Bejot, director of France TV Intl.

The show is produced by Guillaume Renouil, Thierry Bizot and Emmanuel Chain, the TV journalist who owns Elephant Story.

Co-creator Anne Giafferi wrote and directed several of season two’s six episodes. She co-penned TF1’s Intl. Emmy-winning “The Poisoner” and French Agatha Christie redo “A Family Murder Party,” also for France 2.

Last month Gallic blog Le Post called “Parents” “the best of current French fiction.”

But, like some critically acclaimed shows in the U.S., the show has struggled to win auds.

“The first season’s ratings were disappointing, but we believed in the concept and satirical writing,” says France 2 fiction director Fanny Rondeau.

France 3’s primetime soap “Plus belle la vie,” now a ratings phenom, took a year to consolidate, she points out.

With the faux-docusoap format of the first season toned down, the final two episodes of the second season of “Parents” averaged an 18.2% share, besting France 2’s 16.8% May channel share, according to Mediametrie.

It scored well with women under 50 and kids 11-18, with whom France 2 makes little headway.

Stateside, ABC is taking a chance on the format.

It snapped up a two-year-option for a U.S. remake from sales house AB Distribution in December. Bob Kushell (“Samantha Who?”) is the showrunner and has written a pilot for the show, called “Don’t Do This, Don’t Do That.”

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