A Very Secret Service

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
A Very Secret Service TV Poster Image
Smart French spy comedy offers laughs, smoking, and nudity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Sexist, colonialist attitudes pervade, but it's all for comedy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Merlaux has common sense, others don’t. Postwar politics creates friendly enemies.


Hard slapping; bruising, guns visible.


Innuendo; burlesque dancing, nudity (breasts, bare bottoms). 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Netflix series A Very Secret Service is a fun French-language (with English subtitles) post-WWII spy comedy. It features some strong sexual innuendo, nudity (bare breasts, bottoms), and intense interrogation scenes that include hard slapping. It’s not bloody, but there is some obvious bruising, and guns are frequently visible. Drinking is common, and there's a lot of cigarette smoking.

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What's the story?

The French dramatic comedy Au Service de la France, known in the United States as A VERY SECRET SERVICE, stars Hugo Becker as the young André Merlaux, a man recruited as a French secret service trainee during the Cold War. Its the 1950s, and France is struggling with independence movements of its colonies, including Algeria and African colonies. Adding to the craziness of the time is the rise of the counterculture movement, feminism, and New Wave cinema. But Merlaux, under the watchful eye of operations director Monsieur Moise (Christophe Kourotchkine) and his boss, Le Colonel (Wilfred Benaiche), is determined to make it through his elite training and become a full-fledged agent. The problem? He soon discovers that what makes France a world superpower isn't how it actively manages difficult international situations but how well the inefficient agency manages to create its own endless trail of complicated paperwork and negotiate its perpetual layers of bureaucracy.

Is it any good?

The decidedly French (and English-subtitled) series offers lots of sophisticated humor and occasional slapstick to create a fun viewing experience. Merlaux is good-looking and charming, making him easy to like. But the real amusement comes from the arrogant and sexist agents, whose incompetence underscores the ironies of the post-WWII era.

Each 30-minute installment seems a bit more like The Pink Panther than James Bond, but folks who are drawn to spy-themed shows may like it. Fans of contemporary French comedy will find it highly entertaining. But even if you don't speak the language, it's easy to appreciate the intelligent, understated humor of the overall narrative.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences between American shows and those imported from other places. How are TV shows from other countries able to appeal to audiences who don't speak the language or share the same cultural values? What things are commonly featured on foreign TV shows but aren't considered appropriate for general TV audiences in the U.S.?

  • Why are spies so often featured in film and TV? What do you think the life of a spy is really like? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

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