The NY Times blog City Room posted today about a new show airing on French airwaves soon: "Brooklyn Taxi." Though their headline would've been better if it had read: "Exported to France, a Sitcom Set in Brooklyn."
"Brooklyn Taxi" stars Grey's Anatomy star Chyler Leigh and Jacky Ido (who appeared in Inglorious Basterds) as an odd-cop duo in Brooklyn's fictional 125th precinct. Well, Ido's character isn't actually a cop, only Leigh's capable driver. Leigh, who's the "laughingstock" of her precinct because of her notoriously bad driving, hires Ido to zip around the borough. Is this what French TV producers find funny?
Two things. One nitpicky and one, well, that sounds like I've got a massive thorn in my side. Firstly, the show's producer Gaetan Rosseau, who's lived in Boerum Hill for eight years, says the show will be funny because "if you live in Brooklyn, you know there are no yellow cabs." Not true! I used to work and play in adjacent nabe Fort Greene, and the corner where Greene meets Fulton (outside of No. 7) was regularly heavy with yellow cabs. And this was before Barclay's opened. And now, in Crown Heights, I see them all the time. I blame the increased presence on how quickly CH is populating, and all the parents that are coming to visit their kids (sorry, Ma). Franklin Ave., for some reason, also seems to attract visitors that aren't visiting family. Which brings me to my next point.
It doesn't look like Chyler Leigh speaks French. Though Ido does speak the language, none of the dialogue on "Brooklyn Taxi" will be in French. All of it will be dubbed in French (Russian, Italian and Japanese for those markets—they've already been sold) before it airs across the pond. But, apparently, all of these places have heard about the last ten to fifteen years of Brooklyn's "renaissance." I guess this show is a sign of another stage in the "renaissance" of Brooklyn. The first stage, ten to fifteen years ago, saw unprecedented development and innovation, is now turning into another thing to consume, ogle, and export. Not unlike Manhattan, though I'm sure Rosseau would fight me on this, since Brooklyn is "more" than Manhattan. I don't even know if it's an issue of more or less now. For me, it's more of an issue of being able to live in a place I feel comfortable walking around, and I don't mean safety-wise. I mean recognizing people on my block, on other blocks, and not the slightly confused, camera-touting tourists standing around with a map. Yeah, New York City has always been a capital-D Destination, but not Brooklyn. It was peripheral to all that Manhattan hoo-ha, an echo of some its best qualities in spirit, but without the congestion. Like I said, I've got a thorn in my side, but I'd prefer not to have Brooklyn exported out into the world as a sitcom. There's a reason why "sitcom" is always a little derisive.