This review of Family Business Season 3 is spoiler-free.
As someone who makes a living by keeping a close eye on streaming platforms, the success of something like Squid Game makes me laugh. Not that it doesn’t deserve the hype – I covered it in full a week before the mainstream crowd knew it existed and I enjoyed it a fair bit, but whenever a foreign-language production manages to infiltrate the Western cultural zeitgeist, there’s always a faintly embarrassing sense of people realizing for the first time that countries outside of America and the U.K.have entertainment of their own. Netflix has been dropping high-quality South Korean content several times a week every week for years. And beyond that, it regularly releases very good shows and movies from other territories that absolutely nobody pays attention to. Their release schedule is so dense that our entire team can barely keep up with it. And if there’s one thing on their slate that I really wish would find the same kind of mainstream cross-cultural appeal as Squid Game, it’s the French family comedy Family Business.
The Hazan family don’t have very good luck. And that’s a good thing for us since their various misfortunes make for very funny, very snappy television. After deciding to try and reverse their misfortunes by growing and selling weed, they’ve been on the run from or captured by various unsavoury underworld figures for three seasons now. This one begins almost immediately where the previous one left off, with Joseph (Jonathan Cohen), Olivier (Olivier Rosemberg), Gerard (Gérard Darmon), Ludmila (Liliane Rovère) and Aure (Julia Piaton) now “guests” of – unbeknown to Gerard – Catherine and her maniac son.
Keeping the entire family bundled in one place is a new idea for Family Business Season 3, and a good one. It forces them to examine a lot of their history and dynamics, and there’s some good drama that emerges from the claustrophobic setup, including stuff about Olivier’s parentage, Gerard’s love life, and everyone else’s connections to one another. Ludmila is sadly sidelined for much of the season, which is an understandable if lamentable thing, but in truth, the main Hazan clan in its entirety gives a lot more ground to supporting characters. Aida (Lina El Arabi), Clem (Louise Coldefy) and Youssef (Oussama Kheddam) spend the whole season working on their own scheme to break the Hazans free, and their misadventures – thanks in large part to the extra attention paid to Youssef – are perhaps the highlight of this latest batch of episodes.
As ever, with six instalments all running under 40 minutes, this is a breezy, easy binge-watch, and is calibrated to be consumed in one sitting. The balance between humour and drama is spot on again, and no characters end up feeling short-changed by the latest developments. Of all Netflix’s international offerings, Family Business might not be the best, but it’s certainly one of the more deserving of a cult following and an explosion of popularity. If Squid Game has managed to make people realize that television from other countries actually exists, hopefully some will be inclined to check out this low-key French winner.