TVWhen a series comes from Tim Van Aelst, our expectations are high. With ‘Studio Tarara’, the Shelter CEO has one of the best Flemish series of the past decade to his name. His latest pitch, currently on display at Streamz, revolves around the non-obvious romance between the very left-wing Billie and the quite right-wing Benjamin. Love is great, but the contradictions are even greater. Can Van Aelst also conjure up an original series with this interesting premise? Bram De Brabander is looking for it our Viewing Guide out for you.
“Love is a battlefield” sang Pat Benatar in 1983, and she was right. Anyone who has ever fallen head over heels in love knows that there is a 70 percent chance that a romance will end in a late night session crying on the bathroom floor, half-full bottle of white wine in one hand, smartphone with the Instagram page of your now ex-lover in the other.It becomes most dangerous when you are completely upside down, when the butterflies are moving through your large intestine at 100,000 kilometers per hour “Love is blind,” also wailed a dozen other singers.
(Read more below the trailer.)
Billie (Charlotte Timmers) and Benjamin (Ward Kerremans) know all about it. They are madly in love with each other, but the differences between them are as big as Kanye ‘Ye’ West’s ego. She is a left-wing chick, who works in the Kringwinkel and prefers vegan sparkling wine and tofu cubes to a juicy chateaubriand. He’s a right-wing lad, with a career starting in the real estate sector and friends who get chills when they cross a non-white fellow citizen. They are coming to loot the country and destroy our culture, you know the discussions from your timeline on Facebook. “This is not a love story,” warns Triggerfinger frontman Ruben Block, the narrator on duty. “This story is mainly about fear.”
Those fears are deeply ingrained in the protagonists’ opposing visions. This has resulted in a lot of – at times sometimes cliché – discussions, including about the fight against terrorism and the usefulness of the army. Fortunately, the strength of ‘Billie vs Benjamin’ mainly lies in exposing the subtle influence that a person’s worldview has on everyday thinking. “I feel like I’ve been given a second chance by the universe and now I have to give something back to the world,” Billie says when talking about the kidney transplant she recently had. Benjamin thinks he understands her reasoning, but puts it differently: “Those are probably the moments when you really realize that you need to take care of yourself and be careful.” Benjamin focuses on herself, Billie looks outward and wants to do something for her fellow man. Even the smallest nuances sometimes hide major differences.
(Read more below the photo.)
However, the series also looks beyond the differences. Benjamin isn’t just “a right wing bastard”, Billie is more than “a left wing fag”. That means that the series initially becomes a love story again, perhaps the most heartfelt thing you will see on your TV screen in the near future. A top notch superlative due entirely to the superb cast. Charlotte Timmers acts with a seldom seen natural and so definitively settles herself in the list of top actresses that our country is rich. Ward Kerremans confidently wins the title of “most charismatic right-wing dick”. Ruben Block is a genius as a sarcastic narrator who turns Spice Girls song lyrics into art. And then we haven’t even mentioned the hilarious one-liners at times. Or the introduction of the driest opening line when you are at the beach: “I’m looking for a lot of sand, do you know where they have that here?”
Yes, love is a battlefield, but some battlefields are sometimes irresistibly beautiful in all their brutality.
Streams or ships?
Stream! There is a good chance that this is already the best Flemish TV series that you will see on your screen in 2022.
‘Billie vs Benjamin’ can now be seen in full on Streamz, later also on VTM.
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