The Diva of French Television

A hot young screenwriter who has made gay OK for millions of French viewers, Nicolas Mercier sips champagne, dons a feathered hat, and says he wants to see Colin Farrell and Jude Law go at it.




When I asked François-Pier Pelinard-Lambert, editor in chief of Le Film Français and TV presenter for Série Club, what France's gay community's response was to the series he said, "Very positive, because there have never been many gay characters in French television. And when they do appear, they are caricatures. What people love in Clara Sheller is the character of JP -- troubled and troubling, neither sure of himself, nor ashamed of what he is. He's a figure in which all gays can recognize themselves." He's right. I'm not into portrayals of stereotypically gay characters. My characters are just human. They do things that are unexpected. They're constantly surprising themselves with their choices. 

That's what you're known for, isn't it? Not only featuring gay characters, but pushing the ambiguity of their sexuality. Nothing is black or white in your stories. You wrote the first gay scene for the long-running international soap opera Sous le Soleil. And that was a straight teenager who fell in love with his best friend. In Clara Sheller gay JP sleeps with his best friend, Clara. JP's mother leaves his father for an elderly gay man who she settles down with in peaceful domesticity.

This must leave some people confused about your intentions. When I asked Pelinard-Lambert if French gay viewers thought you went "far enough" with your depictions of gay characters, or if those wanting a more aggressive advancement of a gay agenda thought they were too sugar-coated, he said, "Some, probably, but he definitely pushed the boundaries further than ever. In season two the sex scenes, like the character of JP, were very daring. Few English-language series have even gone that far." What was it that you told me your mother-in-law said about the sex scene in season 2?

And I quote: "They didn't have to show him turn over." [ Laughs ] I guess that was pushing the boundaries a bit far for some.

Tags: television