Sophie lives a comfortable middle-class life with her husband and two children. However that changes dramatically when her hubby dies and she discovers that he wasn’t in shipping as he’d claimed, he actually ran SophX, a porn website.
She also discovers that her hubby took out new loans on the house, and so she has to step up and turn the business around, even though she finds porn disgusting. Initially she hopes to make something a bit more upmarket that women will also enjoy, but faces opposition from those entrenched in an old idea of how porn works, as well as adult stars who don’t really know what to do when asked to do proper acting.
Then there’s Roy The Rod, a well-endowed porno actor who Sophie feels an attraction to. But can she get past the fact he sleeps with other women for a living? And can she turn around the business without resorting to what is essentially pimping?
This 2008 French show is undoubtedly kind of fun, even if it has a fair few rough edges and isn’t perhaps as sophisticated as British and American television – indeed, at times the look and feel of the series made me wonder if it was actually made in the 90s. However the dramedy still works, with plenty to keep you entertained as Sophie finds herself thrown into a business she initially wants nothing to do with.
There are times when things move a bit too fast, and the last five minutes of the final episode wrap things up at lightning speed in a way that’s only partially satisfying, but it still works.
Hard is also a bit confused in its philosophy. Much of the show seems to be about female empowerment and a women taking on a male-dominated profession and trying to tame it. However at the same time the way it treats the female porn actresses borders on misogyny, as if they’re all sex-obsessed idiots without a single brain cell between them. However if you can look past this – the show uses the porn actresses as comic relief and seems to have no realisation that it’s a tad insulting – there’s plenty of entertainment to be had.
Don’t expect anything too hardcore though (the 15 certificate ought to be a hint), as while there’s quite a lot of sex, it’s pretty softcore, to the point where the guys wear a variety of weird mankinis while they’re supposedly having sex. In fact if Sophie is wondering why her porn business is struggling, she need look no further than the fact that whoever’s shooting the videos is spending far too much time being careful not to show too much.
There’s undoubtedly a feel that this is an attempt by French TV to make the sort of edgy show that the likes of HBO and Showtime are renowned for in the States. It never reaches that kind of level, but it’s a fun set of six half-hour episodes. When it sticks to telling Sophie’s story – her family, introduction to porn and relationship with Roy – it’s really good, it’s just got a quite a few rough edges elsewhere.
Overall Verdict: A fun French dramedy that may not have a few issues, but it’s keep a smile of your face as Sophie gets thrown into the deep end of porn.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac