We Love This – Scandinavian TV series
By Signe Hansen | Press photos
We are heading into the last month of winter – the hardest one to get through for a lot of people as vitamin-d levels dwindle and snow turns to slush. On the bright side, it is the perfect time to cuddle up with a blanket, grab a cup of tea, and turn on the TV. However, after two months of winter, some might feel like all that was worthwhile watching has been watched. Most likely, if you are into Scandinavian TV, you will have watched (and perhaps rewatched) classics like The Killing (2007–2012), Wallander (2005-2013), and The Bridge (2011–2018) several winters ago. But despair not, we have compiled a list of our favourite new Scandinavian TV series, all with that classic dark Nordic realism, we love so much, because, as they say – if you can’t beat the Scandinavian winter darkness, revel in it.
Set in a mismanaged, faltering Danish prison, where the misery of the inmates is matched by that of the people who look after them, Nordic Noir does not get more grimy and real than Huset. Yet, inexplicably, watching the misery is highly addictive. While tackling the real-life issues of addiction, violence, and political cynicism, the series manages to portray a number of people acting deeply immorally in a way that creates, if not sympathy, then at least some level of understanding. Maybe it is that feeling of a broadened understanding of human dysfunction that gives the series its oddly fulfilling quality. Our verdict – if you only watch one Scandi drama this winter, we recommend it be Huset.
Available on DR (for Danish viewers). Prisoners will air on BBC Four and iPlayer in 2024.
Centred on the extravagant, decadent, and utterly corrupt lives of four super-rich Norwegians, Exit offers a gripping portrayal of ambition run amok and the consequences of unchecked power. While the series delivers its share of humour in the form of the ridiculous antics of its four antiheroes, it also sheds light on the complexities of modern capitalism, the clandestine world of high finance, and the price paid by everyone involved. As the series progresses, the price paid by the women, who at first seem to mirror their husbands’ greed and superficiality, becomes particularly striking. In other words, if you want to feel good about where you are in life (taking that you are not a multimillionaire) while learning a bit about finance, this is the series to dive into.
Available on NRK (for Norwegian viewers), Viaplay or via iTunes, Amazon or Google Play
Based on the best-selling novels by Jens Lapidus, the Swedish TV series Snabba Cash explores the intertwining lives of ambitious criminals, struggling immigrants, and corrupt businessmen. Set against a vibrant but crime-saturated Stockholm, the series delves into themes of ambition, loyalty, and the consequences of greed. Dark, cynical, and with its main characters reeking of desperate ambition, the series is anything but uplifting, but it is nonetheless spellbinding and impossible to pause.
Available on Netflix.
Bonusfamiljen (Bonus Family)
The Swedish TV series Bonusfamiljen is not your typical Scandi drama. Though it has its share of realism and authenticity in its portrayal of human relations and family life, it also has enough humour and charm to make for a warming and uplifting viewer experience. In focussing on the broadly relatable issues of blended families, divorce, and co-parenting rather than complex political intrigues or harrowing murders, it sets itself apart in the realm of Scandinavian television dramas. All in all, the series makes for a nice, light winter treat to bridge you into spring.
Available on SVT (for Swedish viewers) and Netflix.
Borgen: Æren og Magten (Borgen: Power and Glory)
The eagerly anticipated return of Borgen brings back the Danish political drama that captivated audiences worldwide when the first three seasons of the series aired in 2010-13. Set in the heart of Danish politics, the new season delves deeper into the intricacies of power, with what has turned out to be a surprisingly realistic plot around the discovery of oil in Greenland. In the middle of all the ensuing moral dilemmas stands the formidable Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) as always struggling to balance political ideals with personal conviction. The combination of Greenland’s beautiful scenery and the highly relevant moral dilemma faced by politicians trying to follow a green agenda in a world dominated by political and economic ambitions makes for a truly fascinating watch.
Available on Netflix.
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