Let me tell you a story. Or two.
Are you familiar with the nursery rhyme, Rub-a-Dub-Dub?
Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.
and who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker…
Yeah. These three guys. Who would get in a tub going across the ocean? I give up!
Ok—so now we know about the three guys in the tub. I’ll return to that in a while. Now……
Once upon a time, there was a couple. The husband was French. The wife, American. They made a rather interesting couple because they were polar opposites. The Frenchman cerebral; the American woman, a bit devil-may-care. But, the two enjoyed their life together.
Me and my Frenchman. How long have we been together? We’ve been together since I wore my bio hair! That’s a while!!!
And we do enjoy our time together—especially in the evenings after both working all day long. We unwind by watching some of the series that Netflix has to offer. Among them the foreign series. Among them the French series. Bonaparte loves them because, as is natural, he is much more comfortable with the familiarity of his native language. I love them because it gives me the opportunity to learn and become familiar with the French language.
I like to think of my husband as a twin to Antoine Doinel. Francois Truffaut’s alter ego. Maybe I’m the equivalent of Fanny Ardant!
Fanny Ardant. One of MY favorite French actresses! She’s not dubbed!
The subtitles come in handy for me because as I’m listening to the words, and watching the show, the subtitles give me a better understanding of what the actors are saying. The use of subtitles is also not distracting. I repeat—subtitles are not distracting!
Anyway, we were very excited because one of our favorite French series, Marseilles, arrived back at Netflix for Season Two.
This series is everything and a bag of chips with an aperitif!
I’m telling you, the first season was fantastic. It’s full of dirty, juicy, nasty local politics. Gérard Depardieu and Benoît Magimel headline the show and both men are deliciously heartless. This gives you a good idea of just how much we anticipated the coming second season.
Depardieu and Magimel. What a nasty combo and so delightfully juicy!
Friday night, after we enjoyed our aperitifs and dinner, we went upstairs early to get all comfy and cozy in bed and turn the TV on to watch the first episode of Marseille’s Season Two.
But we ended up turning the TV off. He, going bat$hit crazy and speaking very naughty words in French and me laughing so hard because I could not believe what happened.
My husband echoed a chorus of this word. It isn’t a nice one either–only he followed it with the words “de merde”. He was very upset!
Let’s just say that the Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick maker of the tub must have found new employment at Netflix because the powers that be, decided to dub Season Two of Marseilles! This angered my Gallic husband to no end and for me, it was a complete WTF moment!
Now, according to the “experts” at Netflix, this was a strategic move. You can read more about this in the IndieWire article (scroll down to the comments—I left my thoughts!).
I can’t watch dubbed versions of anything. It has nothing to do with me being a snob or a purist. It has everything to do with the fact that dubbing is so out-of-sync with the actors’ mouths and the voices are usually so freaking bad that it all becomes a bad joke.
The best and funniest example of this is Pepe Longsocks from SCTV. Did you ever watch it? OMG. It’s so funny that you’ll cry. John Candy portrays Pepe Longsocks—it’s a take on the old Pippi Longstocking films that were so poorly dubbed.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Watch. And Laugh.
THIS is what dubbing is all about! Get a Depends because you just may laugh THAT hard!
And as angry as my husband was, I couldn’t stop laughing because Netflix Marseilles is now just Pierre Longsocks for me!
There’s a saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and Netflix should realize this. Part of the Netflix charm and appeal was their offering of Foreign series. We are now watching the French series “Witnesses”, a detective series that is both somewhat gruesome and eerie, but nevertheless excellent. Season One so far has been great. I’m so afraid that Netflix will ruin the series by dubbing it if it comes back for another season.
Witnessesses is creepy and eerie but it’s sooooooooooo stinking good! And it has subtitles!
There’s also another French series, Dix Pour Cent (Call My Agent), a great dramady about showbiz and agents and their actor clients. The series centers around the agents, headed by Thibault de Montalembert. This show is so much fun because each episode stars real-life French actors playing themselves! It’s my absolute favorite. Seasons One and Two have been subtitled.
Hands down, Dix Pour Cent is my favorite foreign Netflix offering. Cecile de France!!!! Joey Freaking Star!!!! Nathalie Baye and daughter Laura Smet! I freaking LOVE this show. And it’s SUBTITLED!!!
Thibault de Montalembert, second from left, heads the Paris agency that caters to the French actor elite. OMG. This is greatness and to dub this would be the baiser de la mort–the kiss of death! Please Netflix–please don’t ruin my favorite show!
It sucks so much. I’ve always respected Netflix for their many foreign choices but dubbing brings such a cheesy and tacky side to the shows. And frankly, I don’t know how anyone could watch a dubbed show and not be distracted by the out-of-syncness of the dubbing.
The conundrum is that I can’t unsubscribe because Netflix has great documentaries and stand-up comedy specials! Boo hoo!
I can’t even anymore. What say you? Do you want dubbed or subtitles? Rub-a-dub-dubbed? Or subbies? Let me know!!!
But I can share a great French song and the video isn’t dubbed by an American singer! Michel Fugain “Une Belle Histoire”. It’s a good one!
I am also not a fan of dubbing as, like you said, the voices are often terrible and so out-of-sync with the actors’ mouths!
Right!!!???? OMG. The voices are horrific and the out-of-sync–I can’t. I just can’t. I hope Netflix realized that people feel the same way!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
oh, no! We LOVED season 1 of Marseille but wont watch a dubbed season 2…Frank is on a roll with season 2 of Versaille mais il est en anglais. Last night we watched Gad Elmaleh on Netflix, in English. Very funny! Will check out the other shows you talk about. Thanks for the tips.
Hi Maribeth. Oh..the dubbing on Season 2 of Marseille is so bad. Just so bad. I’m annoyed because I loved season 1 and Netflix completely ruined season two. Gad Elmaleh is greatness!!! I loved the special–my husband didn’t. He doesn’t think Elmaleh’s standup is as funny as his acting. I did!!! XXOXOXOXO!!!
Subtitles FOREVER! I cannot stand dubbing. The worst was the American version of And God Created Woman. How that voice used was supposed to be Bardot…..NO WAY, I couldn’t get past the first few minutes.
Oh Lori. I’ve only seen the French version of And God Created Women. There is no way I could watch a dubbed version. What IS it with companies dubbing anyway? Ugh. It’s so tacky!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
Not sure, but this might work: log into your Netflix account, and select French as the language. Then all of the programming should come up in French, and since this is originally in French, it should be available.
Thanks for the heads up Kewl. I’ll try that. But–will subtitles come up? I guess I’ll find out!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
Right, good point. I would imagine closed captioning is available, but not sure if you can select a separate language for that.I think subtitles are usually in a different language, whereas closed captioning is usually the same language as what’s your hearing.
I absolutely hate dubbing. I’ll march on Netflix to complain about that. Let me know who to complain to. A few French series we enjoyed were A French Village and Spiral. The first about WWII in France and the second is about crime in Paris and the justice system. Both excellent and not dubbed. I also hate laugh tracks. Will not watch a show with laugh tracks.
Hi Sandra! Ugh. I’m still shaking my head. We’re going to call customer service to voice our opinion! We’ll have to check Spiral out but for now, we are both enjoying the subtitled “Witnesses”. It’s so creepy that I needed a melatonin to go to sleep last night! I’m with you on the laugh tracks too–tacky and cheesy!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
I am all about the Subtitles, hate Dubbing with a passion (one of my greatest days was being left almost alone in a cinema in Australia when most people walked out on discovering the latest Godzilla was subtitled not dubbed!).
The only time this changes is the old Monkey Magic tv series, i grew up on that dub and that dub is fabulous!
Loved Monkey Magic!! You’re right, the only time I’ve seen dubbing working
Hi Q. I don’t know what Monkey Magic is but I’m sure the dub was good! My husband said that the people who do prefer dubbing (in the States) are too lazy to read. But I just find dubbing ridiculous, time consuming and distracting!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
Monkey Magic is another cult thing really. It was a Japanese TV show telling the story of the Monkey King from the Mahabarata, there was a UK/English dub done in the late 70s that is bonkers and anyone of my age here in Australia grew up on it!
We had the same experience and were equally traumatized. But we found a way to switch the language to French and the captioning to English. Thank goodness.
Anne. How did you do that?????????? XOXOXOXO
We will go back and retrace our steps and let you know.
Wasn’t John Candy hilarious?? And that whole Second a City tribe!! John grew up in Toronto and like all Canadian kids we saw lots of Radio Canada/CBC stuff that was dubbed from French to English. One I remembered was a show from France called Thierry LeFronde. OMG my brothers and I still laugh our heads off over that one it was SO out of sync! The other one, and you might remember it too was the old Hercules cartoon show. It was, I think originally from Europe and was probably dubbed in many languages, again hilariously out of sync. My old French friend once told me the best way of learning a second language was a) having a lover whose mother tongue was the language you wished to learn or b) watch movies in that language with subtitles and c) watch movies in English with subtitles in the language you wish to learn. I always thought ‘a’ would be my choice….but Mr. Momcat might not agree!! My dear late friend was also an award winning and sought after dubbing expert who dubbed many a movie from French to English. He also translated/wrote subtitles too. It’s definitely a technical art form in movie making which includes overlaying a singing voice onto an actor who can’t sing. He told me that North American audiences were too lazy to read and preferred dubbing…or were ‘bothered’ by the ‘sound’ of the foreign language!! Although he thought that was ludicrous it provided him with lots of work. Hopefully people are more sophisticated and open minded today…except at Netflix:)
Momcat. Lola Heatherton. Sammy Maudlin. Bobby Bitman. Every character Andrea Martin portrayed. SCTV was, hands down, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. I wish I had the complete episodes in DVD! Johnny La Rue….
Your friend is a smart one at that. It’s so true though. I learn so much about the French language from both the subtitles and the written word. I have seen french subtitles to English language shows in France, although most of them are dubbed which is ridiculous. If people want to watch a foreign show, then listen to the native language!!! Oh, I can’t even anymore…XOXOXOXOXO!!!!
Oh no! Dubbing is shit, I would never watch a dubbed series. I don’t find sub titles distracting and guess what ?….I can read and listen at the same time, plus it helps me to learn. How disappointing…but at least you have Les Tèmoins, I’ve just watched the latest series…brilliant! Other series to look out for are Engrenages (Spiral) and Les Hommes de L’Ombre (Spin) both excellent.
I didn’t have my glasses on when I clicked on to your post and was a little shocked to ‘read’ in the title…. I like my titties rubbed! Lol.
Love Une Belle Histoire! Have you heard the 2017 version?
Hi Fiona. Well, I kinda do like having my titties rubbed!!!! Seriously!! Les Temoins is freaking awesome and scary and creepy as all get out. I needed a melatonin to get to sleep last night because Kaz’s made up face scared the bejeezus out of me! We have one more episode to go for the first season! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Thank god it isn’t dubbed!!!!
No–and I’m headed over to youtube to try to catch the 2017 version now!!! XOXOXO!!!
Oh whaaaat!!! I’ve seen the ads for Marseilles as I’ve trawled through Netflix and wondered should I, but now absolutely won’t!! Dubbing is total pits and I would never ever watch anything that was dubbed. In the UK we have a lot of Swedish/Nordic noir cop shows (on BBC4) all in their original language and I swear I’m picking up Danish and Swedish words! Also I’ve watched 2 seasons of Witnesses, which is very good but not a patch on Spiral (or Engranages). Spiral is an outstanding French cop series which launched as long ago as 2005 and has now reached 6 seasons. Totally gripping with an excellent story arc and the characters develop over the years. It really is one of the best cop shows ever. I saw it on the UK’s BBC4 and I understand you can buy it on Amazon.com, but is it on Netflix – I’m not sure? Here’s the link to it on IMDB
I cannot recommend Spiral enough and just look at the actors in it – you’d love it. And I will now try Dix Pour Cent – thanks xxxxxxxx
Oh, I loved Spiral. Great show. Have I missed a season? I’ll check it out. Loved it.
I just checked my Netflix and it looks like Spiral isn’t available. I’m ticked off now! I’ll buy it on our next trip over to France–we have an international DVD player. Dix Pour Cent is GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Penny-you will LOVE it!!!!!! XOXOXOXXO!!!!
I watch Netflix on the computer and I can choose the audio and the language of the subtitles (if I want any). Concerning dubbing it depends on the language. If the movie is in one of the three languages I master, then obviously I don’t want dubbed. But if a movie is in a language I don’t understand, I prefer dubbed. I don’t see myself watching anything in Japanese, Arabic, Polish etc, In my opinion it is way too tedious to always have to read the subtitles. It’s different again in a language where I have some understanding, like Spanish. I’ll go with the subtitles there.
Hi B. I’m still trying to figure out if I can manipulate the language on my Netflix account on the computer. On the TV we can’t. Ugh. I don’t like dubbing at all. I’m a master of none!!! LOL!! XOXOXO!!!!
Dubbing – bah! I want to hear the actors /actresses not some invisible people. I like subtitles and I agree with others – if you get a chance watch Spiral, or Spin – both are completely fantastic and in the UK we are really spoilt by BBC4 which has some fantastic things on it
Hi Juliet! It’s nice to know that most of us are in agreement with the dubbing. It’s just so odd!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
I also cannot stand dubbing. No outfits of the day this past week? Lise
Hi Lise! I’m working on an outfit post after this!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
I just remembered, if you hate dubbing, you have to find and watch this old Australian film called “Hercules Returns”! It is about a group of cinema workers doing their own live dub of an old italian film when they didn’t realise it wasn’t in English until it was too late! Brilliant, utter cult film!
OMG!! Q. I’m definitely going to have to look that up!!! Thanks!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
I am so with you on this – I HATE dubbing! I don’t know why they do it? Surely subtitles are cheaper AND a way to get a feel for a different language? I’ve noticed when we go to France that they dub all the UK and USA shows over there – such a shame! Boo, Netflix
That’s why I can’t watch any US or UK shows on French television. It’s just too cheesy for me. I would rather watch straight French and learn the language more!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
Oh Good Lord, I had no idea they still dubbed things. Why would they do that? It’s got to be cheaper than doing subtitles or something. We must have similar TV watching habits as I happened across Marseilles last week and have it marked to watch later.
I do not want to watch Gerade Depardiu with such an awful accent…as a watcher of foreign film I enjoy the full experience of the story in the timing, emotion & expressions of the language it is filmed in! Marseille has been completely ruined not only because of being ‘dubbed’ but even more so because it has been done SO BADLY…..and no I cannot speak foreign languages but somehow I don’t even notice I am reading the subtitles as I’m watching…..shame on Netflix to stuff around with something that wasn’t needed. I wonder if they really got that many more people watching compared to those that had to tune out! Ps I too tried to do all the language change on Netflix profile section with no joy!
Hi Angie! Well, we figured out how to get the show in the French language with English subtitles. We had to go to audio, play around then go to subtitles. It was work–but tonight we watch Season 2 Episode One! I don’t know for the life of my why Netflix defaulted to dubbed but they need to stop!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Thanks for recommending Dix pour Cent. C’est formidable!
Hi Catherine, I saw your comment on the Indiewire article about this. Assuming you haven’t yet abandoned Netflix because of this issue, here’s how you can change your settings so that you always get the original language plus subtitles.
Once you watch something that isn’t in English with those settings, it will remember your preference in the future, even if there is a dub available. (Shows in Japanese with English dubs have to be done separately because so many anime film from there have dubs.)