Did “Plus belle la vie” invent the metaverse?

The actors take a break from the set during the last day of filming for the French television series 'Plus belle la vie' at the Studios de la Belle de Mai, on September 28, 2022, in Marseille.

VSe Friday, November 18, More beautiful life stopped and, to take the pulse of the national emotion, one has a little the impression that it is life itself which stops. “It tears my heart out, I still can’t believe it’s over”, writes M on Twitter, with a torrent of tears emoji. If the broadcast of episode 4,665 of this Marseille soap opera, entitled “7 marriages for a funeral”, has the appearance of national mourning, it is because the longest daily French series in all of history has become a monument, at the same time as a strange laboratory where the borders between fiction and reality were dissolved daily. What is buried there is therefore not a simple entertainment, but a persistent world which maintained a strange and unprecedented commerce with ours.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In “Plus belle la vie”, the characters were “companions of our bad days and united in our little lives”

Come on, let’s dare a touch of chauvinism: a bit like the Minitel was the ancestor of the Internet, More beautiful life is nothing less than the ancestor of the metaverse, this simulated and shared universe that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to promote today, this conjunction of life and its pictorial representation. For the millions of viewers who have tried it, watching the series has always been this strange experience of venturing into a parallel dimension where all the major events of the real universe existed in duplicate and branched out, against the backdrop of mediterranean decor in cardboard. With its calendar bias, sticking to our own agenda, replaying each of our significant festivities (when it’s Christmas at home, it’s also Christmas in the imaginary Mistral district), More beautiful life appropriated our social biorhythm.

But, beyond this temporal twinness, what really sealed the marriage of fiction and reality in this synthetic South was the integration of news items, in near real time, into the heart of the narrative. Thanks to the responsiveness of some thirty hand-picked screenwriters and the extreme flexibility of the production, barely two days after the death of Johnny Hallyday, Roland, the famous bistro owner of the series, finds himself whistling hold back the night sweeping his kitchen, his eyes moist: “Oh dear, I remember this song, one of his first hits. And me, I was in my first love emotions. »

If the assassination of Samuel Paty was a national drama, its echo was also felt even in the teachers’ room at Scotto High School: I keep thinking this could have happened to one of you”, says Claude Rochat, the character of the principal, addressing two traumatized teachers. Presidential election, Notre-Dame fire, death of Charles Aznavour, etc. : everything that made France vibrate, laugh or cry came to feed, in the form of an aftershock, this cathodic proto-metaver, populated by 80 souls seeming to live their own life.

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