Dr. Loïc Bourdeau joined the School of Modern Languages and Literatures in 2022 after working in the United States for over a decade. As part of his commitment to offering courses that embrace equity, diversity and social justice, and inspired by one of his research projects, he designed a new final-year module that explores the impact of Netflix in Hexagonal France.
France is one of Netflix’s largest foreign investment markets, with an ever-growing catalogue. The available series often represent a transnational tension between Netflix’s diversity quotas and US identity politics on the one hand, and on the other, France’s long-standing rhetoric of blindness to individual diversity – be it linguistic, cultural, racial, religious, disabled or gender identity – in the name of republican French universalism. Throughout the module, students watched several shows—from Lupin, The 7 Lives of Léa and Emily in Paris to The Hook Up Plan, The Revolution and Three Days of Horror—to analyze these tensions and see what Netflix is doing to French identities.
Using critical, analytical and creative skills, students discussed the ways in which these shows offer (or not) new sites of racial representation, an exploration of LGBTQIA+ experiences, a reassessment of the Paris/Province dichotomy and new explorations of French history.
With regard to assessment, Dr. Bourdeau designed a diversity of activities that would allow students to offer in-depth and critically informed reflections on key themes and debates, while also developing professional and creative skills. Students thus wrote 4 short essays as well as one formal show review. They could also work on a show/pitch bible, which is a detailed plan of one’s own show. Finally, they worked in group to create YouTube-inspired videos. Students organized their work according to their personal strengths and delivered excellent content that showcases creativity and critical thinking. Some of the topics covered include: diversity in Reign Supreme, is Emily in Paris good or bad, or racial representation in Family Business, among others.