T.V. is a rapidly shifting landscape. Not that that’s anything new; the medium has been in a state of constant flux since its inception. But recently there have been some new developments worth noting. Netflix is continuing to make good choices, renewing Arrested Development for season five, and Yahoo! is saving Community for its sixth season (though no word on a movie). Undoubtedly, these are two great shows, and at their best, some of the top T.V. comedies in the past decade.
At the end of the day, however, I am much more excited for Amazon Studios’ upcoming pilot for The Cosmopolitans, debuting August 28. I know what I’m getting with Arrested Development and Community. So while I’m excited for the new seasons, there’s very little to anticipate, since they’re likely not going to change that much from previous seasons (although we can hope that Community returns to form). The Cosmopolitans may not sound that interesting, seeing as all Amazon has to say about it is: “The loves and adventures of a group of young ex-patriates in Paris.” But when it’s written and directed by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona), you know it’s in good hands.
Stillman struck gold in 1990 with Metropolitan, a sharp, erudite dramedy that dealt with the “urban haute bourgeoisie,” and was nominated for best original screenplay at the Academy Awards. His next two films, Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998) are widely considered to be understated classics as well. Stillman was then silent for over a decade, finally returning to the game with Damsels in Distress (2011), which was met with a far more lukewarm reception than his previous films. So it may come to the relief of those who didn’t like Damsels to know that in an interview with Robert Bodrog, Stillman comments that “The Cosmopolitans is more like the other films” (although I think Damsels has been unfairly dismissed).
And he’s not the only talent involved. Stillman’s roped in Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, and Carrie MacLemore – among others – all of whom have done good work with him before. It’s still worrisome that Amazon is producing it, seeing as their track record isn’t very reassuring, but I’m confident that Stillman & Co. can pull it off. If there’s anyone who can make a great show about a bunch of expats in Paris walking around and talking about life, it’s Whit Stillman.
In a sea of over-the-top, melodramatic shows, Stillman’s quiet, unassuming wit should be a welcome reprieve. Imagine Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy as a TV series, albeit with a larger cast of characters, and without taking itself so seriously. The Cosmopolitans has enormous potential to be a sophisticated show that’s worth watching and talking about. Why should movies be the only place to feature some good ol’ fashioned pseudo philosophizing?
You can watch a behind the scenes segment exclusively through Vanity Fair and decide for yourself if it looks any good.