The Collection

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Collection TV Poster Image
Beautiful visuals in emotionally flat period fashion drama.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There's little respect for humanity or humility in this drama, where people are valued for being beautiful, rich, and/or talented rather than kind or compassionate. The drama does pay respect to hard work, however, showing how tirelessly a designer works to create a collection. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Few characters are morally upright in this series. Paul Sabine is clever and tough but takes credit for his brother Claude's talent. Claude is artistic and full of ideas but fritters away his talent with drinking and carousing. There are so many other characters it can be difficult to get a bead on each one's personality. 

Violence

Some scenes feature chanting, protesting crowds who burn a figure in effigy; we never find out how this relates to the rest of the plot. One character holds another's head under water briefly to make a point; a main character pays his brother's lover to beat him up during a sexual encounter.

Sex

Flirting, dating; a couple kisses in bed as a prelude to (offscreen) sex; models and other women are seen changing, and we see their vintage lingerie; jokes about sex. A young girl gets pregnant (and is forced to give up the baby).

Language

Strong language: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--k," "prick," "piss," "f--king."

Consumerism

Couture fashion is incredibly expensive, and those who can afford it on this drama don't seem to appreciate it. Several characters point out how unfair it is for some to wear such elaborate clothing while others don't even have enough to eat. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine and liquor at bars, restaurants, and parties; no one acts drunk. Characters frequently smoke cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Collection is a period drama about a family design house in Paris trying to recover from a decline in business during World War II. Fashion-mad tweens and teens may be interested in checking out this drama, but it's rather grim and talky, and it doesn't focus much on the clothes, only on the people making them. Expect flirting, dating, same- and opposite-sex kissing, models and other women seen in vintage lingerie, jokes about sex, and a vulgar expression for oral sex. A young girl gets pregnant and is forced to give up the baby. A man takes money to punch and beat his lover during what at first seems to be a tender sexual encounter. A main character holds another's head under water to make a point, without consequences. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--k," "prick," "piss," "f--king." Adults drink liquor at dinners and parties; no one acts drunk. Several characters smoke cigarettes. Couture fashion is and was incredibly expensive -- this drama makes points about the unfairness of some being able to afford it and some people being barely able to afford food and plain clothing. 

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What's the story?

Set in post-WWII Paris, THE COLLECTION revolves around Paul Sabine (Richard Coyle), head of the Sabine family fashion house, who's about to sign a deal with one of France's richest men, who's interested in revitalizing the Paris fashion scene that was decimated by Nazi occupation. But the real creative force behind the House of Sabine is Paul's brother, Claude (Tom Riley), a hot mess with a genius for garments and a complicated personal life. Their mother, Yvette (Frances de la Tour), rules over both with an iron hand and a perpetually dissatisfied air. Adding more drama to the mix is Nina (Jenna Thiam), the rebellious young daughter of stoic head seamstress Marianne (Irène Jacob); Nina has just returned from giving up the baby she had in secret and is now desperate to escape her current circumstances, perhaps with the help of young American photographer Billy (Max Deacon), who's photographing the house's designs for a U.S. magazine. 

Is it any good?

Sumptuous settings and solid acting make this period drama worth a look, but viewers may wish it was both less complicated and more fun. There's drama enough in a single episode to power the storylines of a whole season of a soap opera or telenovela and so many characters that viewers will have a job just telling one from the other, much less cueing into their stories emotionally. Wait, this one's angry at that one because of -- what now? Who is that? What did he just say, and what did it mean? There are plenty of ensemble dramas that work, but it's confusing to throw all the characters and storylines at us at once; it prevents us from connecting with any one in particular. 

But the far bigger crime of this drama set in a fashion world? A decided lack of fashion. Though scenes are set in the Sabine atelier, the garments are only a backdrop to characters talking (and talking, and talking). In the entire first episode, there's only one dress that we see at length or that plays a part in the goings-on. Otherwise, ladies in gorgeous dresses rush by or take them off as quickly as possibly to stand in something drab while delivering lines. It's hard to see why this fashion house, or the Parisian fashion milieu in particular, was so enchanting as to change history or to convince a rich man to spend his money supporting it. Fashion should be enchanting, heady, breath-stealing -- and so should The Collection. Unfortunately, it's just not. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fashion industry. Is it important to you? Is it important to the people in The Collection? What does fashion symbolize for these people from Paris in the 1940s? 

  • Many people have interesting ideas or innovative designs, but is this enough to build a company? What kinds of things do people have to do and have to be successful in the fashion (or any) industry? 

  • A period show is one that's set in a different historical period than the current one. How does a show communicate the time period it's set in? 

  • Why is couture fashion more expensive than clothing you buy at a store? Can everyone afford couture clothing? What does this type of clothing say about the person who wears it? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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