‘The Attaché’: Prejudice and Marriage Trouble in the City of Love
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Attaché, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2]
Moving to a new city and restarting your life is tough at the best of times. Now imagine moving to a new city in a foreign country where you don’t know anybody or speak the language. Oh, and you’ve suddenly found yourself unemployed and thrown in jail for something you had nothing to do with.
That’s the situation Israeli-Jewish musician Avshalom (Eli Ben-David) lands in in the first episode of The Attaché, the Israeli drama series that dropped March 21 on Acorn TV. Having packed up his life in Tel Aviv, Avshalom joins his wife Annabelle (Héloïse Godet) and their young son Uri (Eli Lax) in Paris, where Annabelle has just secured a new job as the attaché to the Israeli embassy.
Avshalom’s first night in the City of Love is fraught with problems. Annabelle’s family throws him a surprise welcome party, but he struggles to fit in due to the language barrier. Then, to make his night even worse, he receives a phone call from his bandmate back home, who informs Avashalom that he’s being dropped from the group, just as they were about to start work on an album.
When Avshalom leaves the party to clear his head, he unsuspectingly gets caught in the middle of a series of deadly terror attacks across the French capital. The Parisian police stop Avshalom in the street as he’s running back to the party, and, once again, the language difficulties turn into a nightmare situation. Due to his ethnicity and the fact he can speak Arabic, the police arrest Avshalom as a potential suspect.
The inspiration for the series is drawn from Ben-David’s own experiences in Paris. The Israeli screenwriter and actor, who also directs, relocated to the city with his wife and three children in 2015, just weeks before the devastating terror attacks that saw 130 people killed and hundreds more seriously injured.
“I saw Paris’ transformation right before my eyes, and my experiences during that time inspired this series,” says Ben-David. “It was like hell in the beginning. I didn’t understand the language. I remember I wrote the series the same time as living those experiences. You know when you’re writing a series, most of the time you’re having at least 1, 2, 3 years of perspective? I was writing it live.”
The terror attacks themselves are not the sole focus of these episodes, though they add to the tension, unease, and prejudices felt by Avshalom as a stranger in a strange land. Instead, The Attaché is more about a family learning to adapt, with Avshalom and Annabelle’s marital troubles front and center, as is seen more in the second episode.
After Annabelle clears up the mix-up and gets her husband out of jail, Avshalom attempts to fit into his new surroundings. He even takes French lessons with an extremely pushy language teacher, but again, he finds it difficult to connect. And it’s not just Avashalom having to adapt; his son Uri has to start a new kindergarten, which he seems as enthusiastic about as his father does learning French.
In a sweet moment of father-and-son-bonding, Avashalom takes Uri out of kindergarten early for a trip to the movies. But even something as simple as attending a movie theater is filled with fear and paranoia. Avashalom has a vision of terrorists storming the theater and gunning down the moviegoers in a graphically violent sequence.
The paranoia also affects Annabelle, as she grows increasingly worried when she realizes Avashalom took Uri out of kindergarten and now isn’t answering his phone. While the focus of these episodes is mostly on Avashalom, it’s clear Annabelle has her own stresses balancing a high-profile job with being a supportive wife and mother.
“Were you scared,” Avashalom asks his wife when he eventually returns home. “You have no idea,” she replies. “Good,” he says, “welcome to the club.”
The Attaché Streams on Acorn TV.