Netflix’s “Lupin” burst onto the screen in 2021, introducing viewers to Assane Diop (Omar Sy), a towering Senegalese immigrant in Paris whose unassuming demeanor hides a brilliant mind. In a city where he should stand out, Assane often fades into the background, exploiting racial blind spots to execute audacious heists. His inspiration comes from the fictional gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, penned by French novelist Maurice Leblanc.
Created by George Kay (“Killing Eve”) in collaboration with François Uzan (“Family Business”), “Lupin” weaves a complex narrative reminiscent of “Luther,” Sherlock Holmes,” and “Inside Man.” Each answer provided in this ten-episode French crime drama spawns more questions, keeping audiences hooked. In the premiere, Assane devises a plan to steal Marie Antoinette’s priceless necklace from the Louvre, enlisting dubious allies and grappling with personal challenges, including overdue alimony and strained family relationships.
What sets “Lupin” apart is its patience and intelligence. Assane, much like the show’s writing, is cunning, relying on his acting prowess, disguises, quick thinking, and the prejudices of others to his advantage. The series also shines a spotlight on overlooked characters, such as detective Youssef (Soufiane Guerrab) and a determined journalist, highlighting societal biases through their struggles for recognition.
Kay and Uzan expertly blend elements from classic detective tales. Assane’s fighting style echoes “Luther,” his disguises and trickery parallel Sherlock Holmes, and his heists evoke the tension of “Inside Man.” However, unlike typical cynical protagonists, Omar Sy’s Assane is irresistibly charming, even in his moments of wrongdoing. His sincerity and soft touch make him lovable, captivating audiences despite his flaws.
While some supporting characters lack depth initially, the series maintains its allure, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating the finale. As Kay and Uzan delve into Assane’s failed marriage and thrilling heists, they craft a well-staged, fast-paced crime thriller that leaves viewers in awe. “Lupin” isn’t just addictive; it stands out as the first great television show of 2021.