Standing Up on Netflix is a French comedy-drama revolving around the lives of four comedians in Paris trying to make it big in the stand-up comedy scene.
Nezir (Younes Boucif) and Aïssatou (Mariama Gueye) are young comedians at an early stage of their careers. They perform at the club owned by Bling (Jean Siuen), a movie star and a comedian who’s trying to cope with his waning glory. Apolline is an art history student who wants to try her hand at stand-up comedy.
All of them while trying to get to the big stage professionally, end up in situations where their personal relations end up in jeopardy.
Aïssatou gets viral on the internet through a video and becomes an overnight sensation. But the video leads to conflict with her husband.
Nezir finds a writing job but a misstep gets relations between him and Aïssatou tense.
Apolline tries to discover the comedian inside her as she grows closer to Nezir. At home, her mother insists on following a career in art history, something more suitable to a girl like Apolline.
Bling tries to revive his career but the downfall keeps picking pace.
The main cast really carries the show with finesse.
Younes Boucif, as Nezir, a struggling comedian juggling between paying bills on time and following his passion, quickly becomes a favorite with his genuine charm and simplicity.
Aïssatou is a rising star and Mariama Gueye plays the role of a black female comedian in Paris with much ease and style.
Elsa Guedj portrays the role of Apolline, who’s both fun-loving and emotionally struggling at the same time, with genuine sincerity. Her performance brings out the innocence of the character who’s just driven by a want to truly follow her passion.
Jean Siuen, as Bling, plays the bratty former star who’s finding it hard to cope with the changed status quo. Jean Siuen portrays the repulsive yet pitiable character with perfection.
Mouss Zouheyri (Nezir’s father), Pascale Arbillot (Apolline’s mother), and Olivier Kissita (Aïssatou’s husband) give notable performances as well.
The cast has done a brilliant job in playing the characters they are handed. It’s difficult not to pick favourites.
Each character is explored well and it becomes easy to understand every character’s blueprint. All the characters are going through different stages of their stand-up careers and hence, enjoying varying levels of fame and success. This provides for very interesting interpersonal dynamics between the characters.
The series finds its funny bone in the interactions taking place between the different characters. It’s genuinely interesting to see how the story unfolds without being dragged a lot.
The well-paced screenplay combined with the cheeky fun music makes it an extremely easy watch. Add to it, the colourful set design and the beautiful architecture of France, the series presents a vibrant and fun world to dive into with a bunch of interesting characters.
The series is consistently plagued by the half-decent comedy sets that the characters perform at various venues and times throughout the series. They are barely funny and rarely notable.
The series does try to explore many social issues throughout the course. Racism, abortion, and sexuality are all subjects that the story tries to tackle at points before completely abandoning them and moving on.
Another lack-luster aspect of the series is the unimpactful portrayal of the conflict the characters face. Potentially impactful conflicts are resolved easily without making much of an impact on the viewer. At other moments, the situation is left unresolved.
Packed with some loveable and enjoyable characters, Standing Up is a really fun watch that doesn’t lurk around a lot and picks up pace quickly. Ignoring the stand-up sets which should have been funny in a series that explores the life of stand-up comedians, the series stands well on its own with the support of the endearing performances of the cast.
Some unanswered question by the end makes space for another season and it’s hard not to hope for more.