[This review was contributed by (AF).]
Paris, France gets a piece of the Netflix streaming action with its comedy-drama The Hook Up Plan. With a mixed cast of newcomers and award-winning talent, the audience won’t mind reading the subtitles for this french entertainment.
In season one, the story quickly puts our lead character Elsa (Zita Hanrot) into a depressed state once she discovers that her long term ex-boyfriend has moved on. As she spirals into negative self-loathing, her two best friends Charlotte (Sabrina Ouazani) and Emilie (Joséphine Draï) hire a male escort to date Elsa. The goal is to help start dating again. After a few dates, white lies, and a love letter, the situation gets hilariously complicated before the truth comes out.
Though mainly focused on Elsa, the beautifully flawed friendship of the three women makes the story relatable and connects to the viewer. Emilie embodies a strong worker mentality as a successful architect dating Charlotte’s brother Antonie (Syrus Shahidi). Antonie is soft-spoken, patience and is often emasculated by Emilie’s dominant personality.
Charlotte is passionate, loves life, and job hops. She also happens to be sleeping with Emilie’s brother Matthieu (Tom Dingler). Elsa’s ex-boyfriend, Maxime (Guillaume Labbé), still enjoys the friendship of Antonie and Mattieu and often invites himself to the group’s social events.
His presences make things slightly awkward. So the group struggles to adjust when the male escort, Jules ( Marc Ruchmann), becomes less of a transaction and acts more like a real partner for Elsa. Ironically, the men find out about Jules’ real occupation and force Emilie and Charlotte to come clean to Elsa.
The friends share confessions, emotional outbursts and hurtful words that cultivate guilt and finally separation. No one is spared or so we thought.
In season two, several months go by and the tables turn. Elsa is balancing the lies between new and old relationships. Emilie and Charlotte compete with each other to regain their friendship with Elsa at the expense of their personal relationships.
Meanwhile, Antonie, Matthieu, Jules, and even Maxime add emotional layers to the subplot. Their involvement creates depth and colorful complications without over-dramatizing the situation, for the most part.
By the end of season 2, Maxime becomes the unrequited love interest using quirking tactics to win Elsa back. Antonie and Emilie get cold feet about their commitment to each other. And Charlotte and Matthieu could be ending their relationship.
Season two was not as strong story-wise. It had a predictable ending but the acting still kept the story entertaining.
Escort situation aside, the subplots added substance to the drama. It displayed realistic moments of emotional flexibility while the viewer’s feelings are vulnerable.
Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you say what you mean or say nothing at all. When your expectations of someone failed and you still forgive them.
What’s remarkable about the drama is that these characters make mistakes, they acknowledge those mistakes, and then make more mistakes. Usually, we see a story where someone changes and everything is better. But this drama does not fall into that trap.
No one is perfect, but the relationships, the bonds, and how they make you feel determine the elusive perfection we all expect. So prepare for binging this drama. This drama series is a perfect recommended on Netflix.