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When A Soap Opera Doesn’t Seem That Fake

“Modern Family” … When I first heard the subject of this issue, I immediately thought about the show that you probably all know in the United States. Watching it makes us wonder what a typical family should look like. Can we, nowadays, find in any country something like a family pattern or a norm to follow? I think that nothing could be less sure. And as a French girl, I would even dare to say that there are as many types of families as there are different cheeses in France!Well, maybe not.

To keep on talking about series and families, I just remembered a very French –and very popular back home – soap opera, “Plus Belle La Vie.” If I was to translate its title, it would be something awful like “More Beautiful Life,” and it would not be wrong to say that since even the original title is not proper grammatical French! Well, this soap is about a dozen or so people living a really colorful life in an ancient neighborhood of Marseille, France. This really long soap appears almost every night in French televisions since 2004 and episode after episode we can witness different types of families being built –and always in a surprising way! Indeed, it won’t be surprising in this show, just like in France, to see divorces, weddings, live-in partnerships, homosexual unions, adoptions, etc…


Like all the soaps filmed inside, “Plus Belle La Vie” is funny because it lacks fresh air and sometimes it looks fake. But, as far as I know, this soap opera does a pretty good job of depicting the multiple faces of a French modern family. From 18 years old onwards, people in France can choose to live together, to live alone, to marry, to divorce, to remarry, to have children, to adopt (or at least try to), to buy a dog… okay not the last one. The possibilities are more than diverse and most of them are supported by the law.

Marriage is legal if the married-to-be are at least 18. In 2012, there were 245,930 weddings celebrated in France and the average age that year was 30. Here’s a funny fact about marriage: since 1951, if the President allows it, you can also marry a dead person! 😀
• In 2012, even if it’s a long process, there were –sadly– 128,371 divorces – more than half of the weddings is really a lot!
• It is a lot but, on the other hand, that does not mean that the romantic French love is dead! Indeed, two people can decide to live together and get “pacsé.” It’s the verb for the PACS: “In France, a civil solidarity pact (pacte civil de solidarité), commonly known as a PACS, is a contractual form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organizing their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. The PACS was voted by the French Parliament in November 1999, largely to offer some legal status to same sex couples.” (Thanks Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_solidarity_pact)

So, in 2012, there were 160,231 PACS declared. This number includes the unions of people of the same sex.

• It’s brand new and it’s the result of many demonstrations in the street by my lovely revolutionary people: gay marriage is legal since 2013! And since then, more than 7,000 gay marriages were celebrated in France –see? Love is not dead.

So yeah, here we talked about a bunch of things, soap operas, cheeses, marriages, divorces, dogs, but let’s not forget about what is really at stake, the moving appearance of families in France. Nowadays, our society has been granted a certain freedom that allows us to decide to upset old conventions. Not every French person will be happy or tolerant with that but slowly, little by little, we’re getting there. To conclude, I would just say that in France, there is no such thing as a normal French family, there are men, women and life.

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