“I promise you”, broadcast every Monday on TF1, faithfully adapts “This Is Us” while taking some welcome liberties with the original. So we had fun playing the 7 differences between the two series.
Broadcast every Monday at 9:05 p.m. on TF1 for several weeks now, I promise you is none other than the French adaptation of This Is Us, an American series worn by Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) which is a hit on the NBC channel and has to date five seasons. And if this remake obviously remains very close to the original version, the producer Aline Panel and the writers of I promise you have all the same allowed themselves some welcome freedoms. Which allow in particular to further advance the plot, and the various members of the Gallo family, in the culture and history of our country. And might well make diehard This Is Us fans want to take a look at this successful adaptation and play, like us, the 7 Differences Game ….
1. Michaël’s profession
When This Is Us debuts, Kevin Pearson, played by Justin Hartley, is the lead actor on a hit sitcom called The Manny. However, tired of his role, he suddenly decides to slam the door of the series to give new impetus to his career and move towards “more serious” roles. A very Hollywood vision of the profession of actor difficult to adapt in France without making fun of popular series or daily soap operas – the equivalent that most closely resembles sitcoms, all things considered. This is why, in the French version, Michaël (Guillaume Labbé) is a footballer for OM who sees his career stopped after an unfortunate incident. And tries to convert as an actor. “Hollywood soap actor, that doesn’t exist in France”, explains Aline Panel, the producer of I promise you. “We chose football because for me it is a very French institution, a vector of integration. It’s very important because, behind, the subject of this series is integration”.
2. Different actors to embody the older versions of Florence and José
The biggest difference between This is Us and I promise you undeniably concerns Florence Gallo, the mother of a family played by Camille Lou. In This Is Us, Mandy Moore plays Rebecca Pearson, the mother of triplets, at all ages, from meeting Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) in the late 1970s to scenes set in the present. A process, requiring many hours of makeup in order to age Mandy Moore, which was not reproduced in I promise you since TF1 and the production simply decided to call on another actress, namely Nathalie Roussel ( My mother’s castle, Inside), to camp Florence nowadays. And the same goes for José, Paul’s best friend (Hugo Becker), who is played by Bruno Sanches in the 80s and 90s, and by Lionnel Astier (Kaamelott, Alex Hugo) in the present, while Jon Huertas embodies Miguel, his American counterpart, at all times.
“On This Is Us, they have time to put make-up on the actors because they do 12-hour set days, which we are not allowed to do in France”, admits Aline Panel. “I didn’t want to do things by halves and risk it not being believable. And the other reason is that Camille is younger than Mandy Moore. When Florence is the mother of three teenagers, it works very well. We changed Camille’s hairstyle and aged her skin a bit. And in the end, we really believe in it. But to play Florence 20 years later, she was too young to be so “aging”. So we made the choice to find an actress who looked like him “.
3. The story of Amidou, Mathis’s father
If Mathis (Narcisse Mame) was abandoned in a public toilet when he was a baby, unlike Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who was taken in outside a fire station, it is above all the story of the biological father of the character that differs from one version to another. In This Is Us, William (Ron Cephas Jones) is diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer when Randall tracks him down, while in I promise Amidou (Bass Dhem) is HIV positive. And the bisexuality of the character is, for the moment, not addressed in the remake of TF1.
Amidou’s past, and his origins, have also been adapted to the history of our country, as the series producer recently explained to us: “In I promise you, Mathis is black, like Randall, but he comes from post-colonial African immigration, which is not at all the same story as that of the Americans with their African-American community from the ‘slavery. It’s our story, it’s very different from This Is Us “. Origins that allow screenwriters to approach racism in a different way, almost more in the end.
4. A more important place for humor
In This Is Us, Kate (Chrissy Metz) meets Toby (Chris Sullivan), her future partner, in a support group for overweight people. Very American lyrics groups, difficult to transpose into French culture, which prompted the writers of I promise to imagine a different meeting for Maud (Marilou Berry) and Tanguy (Marc Riso), who meet for the first time in the street, in front of a supermarket, where Tanguy accidentally drives his car on the groceries Maud has just bought. A meeting full of humor which announces the tone of the plot of these two characters, written with much more lightness than in the original series.
“It was a will, but it got over us a bit”Aline Panel confides when asked how the idea of infusing more comedy in I promise you came about. “It is obviously linked to the dialogues and to all the work that has been done on this axis of adaptation. We rewrote, we did not translate. So that it is said by the French, with our culture, our psychology, our way of speaking. Which is not at all American. We are not there to go into ecstasies about everything, all the time. We are a little more ironic, we can put a little humor, even when it’s dramatic. We wrote it like that, knowing that there was a little more humor, but it was not really a will totally assumed and theorized. And then we saw on the set and in the editing we laughed a lot. And now that we have done this first season, we integrate a little more this comic dimension into the texts of season 2 “.
5. A super effective nostalgic soundtrack
Beyond the title of the series, I promise you, which obviously evokes the hit of Johnny Hallyday, the place of music is much more important in the TF1 series than in This Is Us. And this notably involves a band -original more “popular”, composed of emblematic titles of the 80s and 90s which thus accompany each episode the trajectory of the Gallos over the last 40 years. “The music of the series is very French”, explains the producer of the series. “The score is very French, it’s piano, very melodic, it’s very different from the American version which is very refined, more on tones of folk. We did it French, very emotional. And then there are all the French titles that we hear over the episodes, from Alain Souchon to Jean-Jacques Goldman, via Renaud, Francis Cabrel, or Johnny Hallyday of course, with “I promise you” which gives its title in the series. The presence of these songs was our idea from the screenplay, so that there are silent scenes during which we can have the pleasure of listening to these songs which inevitably bring back memories “.
6. A different setting … and an impact on a cult episode
While the Pearsons are growing up in Pittsburgh in This Is Us, it is on the Atlantic coast, in La Rochelle, that the sequences of Je te promis set in the 80s and 90s take place, which thus enjoy magnificent natural settings. “The ocean offered magnificent landscapes and that embellished the series”, explains the producer of the TF1 series. “And then I was a little fed up with the Mediterranean Sea, which we already see in all French series (laughs). The Atlantic, it’s less vacation. And then it gives very beautiful images. The ocean. which withdraws, the light to the west, it gives a particular aesthetic, very nostalgic. It was not bad to approach the past “. This different setting has had consequences on the plot since, while Jack plans to build a house for his family, Paul wants to build a boat to take his wife and children on a trip. But that’s not all. This Is Us episode 4, “The Pool”, one of the most beautiful in the series, is not reproduced identically in I promise you. The writers having preferred to take the Gallos to the beach, in order to enjoy the landscapes of the Atlantic coast.
And if Kate and Kevin live in Los Angeles as adults, and Randall in Philadelphia, the three Gallo children live in the same city on the eve of their 38 years, namely Paris. “The present takes place in Paris because it is the great French city par excellence. It remains the place where we go to study. We cannot be a trader elsewhere. And I found it interesting to photograph the French reality which is that a lot of things still remain polarized on Paris. Unlike the American series where the characters are distributed in several big cities “.
7. Absent characters (for the moment anyway)
Fans of This Is Us will not fail to notice that, while season 1 of I Promise You adapts the first 16 episodes well to the American series, certain subplots, and the characters that go with them, have been erased by the screenwriters of the French remake of TF1. Introduced in episode 13 of This Is Us, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), Kevin’s ex-wife, has for the moment no equivalent in I promise you since it is never said that Michael has been married in the past. And as we said above, Amidou’s bisexuality not being addressed either, Jessie (Denis O’Hare), the man with whom William had a love story in This Is Us, is also absent from the French adaptation. But this character could well make its appearance in season 2 because Aline Panel has promised to Stubborn that Amidou’s sexuality would be explored in the next episodes in the event of renewal by the One.
What do the cast of the original This Is Us look like?