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 V.23 No.36 | September 4 - 10, 2014 

Idiot Box

Americans in Paris

“The Cosmopolitans” on Amazon

What becomes of the brokenhearted? Well, according to writer/director Whit Stillman, they go to Paris. In a recent interview with BuzzFeed, Stillman said, “I think men go there and have their hearts broken, but women come there with their hearts broken.” Such is the case with his first television show “The Cosmopolitans.” The dialogue-heavy dramedy takes note from Stillman's feature-length projects, such as Damsels in Distress and Metropolitan, by placing a privileged group of Caucasian Americans in the midst of the City of Love, searching for, well, I guess love. And talking about it a lot.

First up, we have Jimmy (Adam Brody, “The O.C.,” Lovelace), the somewhat upbeat, pragmatic front man of the proceedings who takes a shine to the beautiful Camille (Dree Hemingway from indie gem Starlet) at a party. Next up is Hal (Jordan Rountree), Jimmy’s close friend who is in the midst of a break-up/make-up (aka relationship hell). Then we have the token foreigner in Sandro (Adriano Giannini). So what's the show about? Well ... that depends on what you take from it. Like the aforementioned Damsels in Distress, the value in Stillman’s latest project is discovered within its conversations.

But the interesting thing about Stillman's works is his ability to create a context through words shared between people—especially words shared between strangers.

Plotwise there's not a lot going on in the show’s pilot (one of five “test pilots” Amazon has just released on Instant Video). The group of friends stumbles upon a lonely Alabama girl named Aubrey (Carrie MacLemore) at a cafe while having a lengthy conversation about the day Hal met his ex-but-not-quite-girlfriend Clemence. After hearing Aubrey's similar brokenhearted/relationship-Jenga tale, the group invites her to a party where they run into a select group of Paris glitterati, including fashion journalist Vicky (Chloë Sevigny reuniting with Stillman after The Last Days of Disco). And that's pretty much the plot. Conversations at a cafe. Conversations at a party.

But the interesting thing about Stillman's works is his ability to create a context through words shared between people—especially words shared between strangers. Take for instance a conversation between Aubrey and Vicky, where we learn of Vicky’s contempt for Parisian men, boys who try to act like men and the women who fall for them. We also catch a glimpse of Aubrey's naiveté within the mix of all this privilege: the vast wasteland of the rich and parties in mansions with mix-ups over an uninvited drug dealer. Some might view the series and come out thinking it’s dull. If you like your TV shows steamy and dramatic, stick with “Scandal.” However, those who've invested time in Stillman as an auteur of the bourgeoisie might find something observantly appealing in “The Cosmopolitans.”

“The Cosmopolitans” is available now via Amazon Instant Video.

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