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Series / Hélène et les Garçons

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Hélène et les Garçons note  is a French series created by AB Productions that first aired in The '90s in the Club Dorothée show on the TF1 channel. It's a Spin-Off of Premiers Baisers.

The premise is simple: a trio of girls who share a college room meets a trio of boys who also share a college room. Inevitably they end up becoming three couples. The boys also form a Rock Trio. Even though the series only runs for two years, it has 280 episodes, so lots of characters will go away and lots of new friends, band members, and new couples will be added to the group. Some episodes also deal with serious issues like drugs and rape.

A cross between an average Friends-like sitcom (with the inevitable Laugh Track) and a soap opera (280 episodes in a row full of love triangles and melodrama), it involves a lot of cheesy and formulaic plots, but the series is still considered a Cult Classic in France. Due to both its success and a 1990 French law that enforced quotas on importations of animes back in the day and forced AB Productions to produce more shows, it got three spinoffs, the Denser and Wackier Le Miracle de l'Amour (a Roommate Com with only rare drama), and later the Darker and Edgier Les Vacances de l'Amour and Les Mystères de l'Amour, the last of which is still on air these days.

Hélène et les Garçons

  • Affectionate Nickname: Johanna often calls her boyfriend Christian "Cricri d'amour".
  • Badbutt: The final episode, "Dénouement", features a street fight the violence of which was made as kid-friendly as possible, despite all the people involved being armed with baseball bats. The insults are rather hilariously innocuous.
  • Big Bad: Thomas Fava at various points throughout the series. Franck, Ismo and Bernie towards the end.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The original trio of girls, Hélène (blonde), Cathy (brunette), and Johanna (redhead). Later on, Cathy is replaced by Laly, who is also a brunette.
  • Breakout Character: Hélène was originally a secondary character from Premiers Baisers (First Kisses), another sitcom about the life of Hélène's younger sister Justine. Here, she's the main character.
  • Characterization Marches On: Laly was originally a down-to-earth, relatively normal girl. After Johanna is Put on a Bus, the writers wanted another "kooky girl", so Laly is changed into an extremely flawed and eccentric person, acting more like a bratty teenager than a college student. Her quirky trais are exaggerated even more in spinoffs and sequels.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the early episodes, it was just a standard sitcom. As the show goes on, it gets more dramatic and similar to an endless Soap Opera, despite the Laugh Track and funny moments.
  • Funny Foreigner: Johanna, the token American girl, is a goofy Plucky Comic Relief character. In later episodes, her Suspiciously Similar Substitute Rosy is Italian.
  • Garage Band: The boys have a band (oddly enough without a singer) and they spend most of their time rehearsing in a garage in every episode.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold:
    • Hélène, the blonde protagonist, is known for her sweetness and being a Team Mom to the others. Her boyfriend Nicolas is similarly blond and good-natured.
    • Bénédicte is also blonde, as well as an innocent and kind Love Martyr.
  • The Masochism Tango:
    • Johanna and Christian are a pretty dysfunctional couple and they hurt each other quite a few times, with Christian leaving the show after his latest Kick the Dog moment to Johanna.
    • José and Bénédicte are even worse. The former is The Casanova who cheats on the latter all the time, and always ends up Easily Forgiven for some reason.
  • The Matchmaker: Johanna goes to great lengths to make Laly and Sébastien hook up, when they first join the group. They eventually do.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The last 20 episodes feature a woman named "Taxi" who is usually wearing Stripperiffic outfits, incuding shorts, mini skirts, and often her shirts are nothing but bikini tops. The main ladies are also attractive and have their fanservice moments with the right clothing.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: They are supposedly college students but they are rarely seen studying and never seen attending classes.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Cathy and Etienne leave the show after 70 episodes. They are replaced by Laly and Sébastien.
    • Johanna and Christian also leave the show for good much later, though they will both come back Older and Wiser in some of the sequels.
  • Revolving Door Band: Nicolas is the only consistent member of the band throughout the series.
  • Revolving Door Casting: Of the original cast, only Hélène and her boyfriend Nicolas are still around by the end of the show.
  • Rock Trio: The original members of the band, Nicolas (guitar), Etienne (bass) and Christian (drums).
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl:
    • Sébastien and Laly, only after Laly's Flanderization.
    • Olivier has two relationships with energetic girls towards the end of the show, first with Rosy and later with Taxi.
    • Averted with Johanna, the original Genki Girl from the early episodes, who is paired with Christian, the most immature and least savvy of the guys.
  • Spin-Off: Of Premiers Baisers, specifically based on Hélène’s character. This series itself also has three spin-offs.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Johanna leaves the show, we got Rosy, another brash, eccentric girl who is clingy towards her Love Interest (Olivier, in her case) and gives him an Affectionate Nickname. Olivier's last girlfriend Taxi is also an expy of Rosy, even using the same nickname.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Johanna is more uncouth than the other girls, and usually dresses like a tomboyish, all-American girl (boyish outfits, short hair, and often Tomboyish Baseball Cap) but is a Love Freak who loves romantic stuff. In the sequel Les vacances de l'amour she has sort of a Girliness Upgrade.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Christian is arrogant, cynical, and had problems with drug abuse at some point. He's still a Chick Magnet and one of the franchise's most popular characters.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Christian, and in later episodes, José and Laly. The latter two also have their obnoxiousness exaggerated in the sequels for the sake of laughs. Downplayed, since all three have their decent moments thanks to their True Companions.

Le Miracle de l'Amour

  • Alone Among the Couples: Adeline is initially this in the house along with the three main couples (Hélène/Nicolas, Laly/Sébastien, Bénédicte/José). Averted after Linda moves in with the main cast, and she's also single for most of the show.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Taxi, Fabrice, and Bruno were part of the group at the end of Hélène et les Garçons, and Fabrice and Bruno were dating Bénédicte and Adeline, respectively. In this immediate sequel (which started only a few weeks later) they disappear without explanation.
    • At some point, José's half-sister Flo moves in with the main cast for several episodes, but then she disappears and it's never explained what happened to her.
  • Demoted to Extra: Hélène herself. She only appears in few episodes, but is mostly absent.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: It's not clear how the main cast can afford the big house where they live together. They are all supposedly students, the guys have a Garage Band, and as far as we know, only two of the main characters work (Linda and Adeline/"Manuela" are models).
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Jimmy is introduced in the second half of the show and remains a main character even in the other sequels, despite not being an original character from Hélène et les Garçons.
  • One of the Boys: After Nicolas is Put on a Bus, new guitarist Cynthia becomes the single girl in an all boy band.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: The only spinoff where Johanna and Christian don't appear at all, although Christian is mentioned at least once.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: It's pretty much "The Laly Show". She's the only character to appear in almost every episode and her crazy antics drive the plot nearly all the time, even after her boyfriend Sébastien is Put on a Bus.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: José and Laly with everyone else but especially with each other.

Les Vacances de l'Amour

  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Nicolas and (later) Hélène return, after being Put on a Bus in the middle of Le Miracle de l'Amour.
    • After being completely absent in Le Miracle de l'Amour, Johanna and Christian come back Older and Wiser, though the latter only in the last few episodes.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After the first few episodes, Linda, Manuela, Olivier, Nathalie, and Cynthia disappear. Cynthia will return in later episodes.
  • Darker and Edgier: In this show and the following sequel, Laugh Track and sitcom elements are removed, to make it more of a show for an older target audience, as the main characters got older.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Johanna is no longer the tomboyish college student she was in Hélène et les Garçons.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: This sequel introduces Jeanne, one of the main characters in the franchise.

Les Mystères de l'Amour

  • The Bus Came Back: After decades of absence, we see older characters from Hélène et les Garçons coming back, most notably Cathy.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: This show introduces Fanny, a very popular character, and she and Christian become one of the most popular and iconic couples in the series.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Christian is much less abrasive and arrogant than he was in Hélène et les Garçons.