It’s not all Nordic Noir
Did you know that there are some excellent Nordic comedy series out on TV now? Although Nordic comedy is often more than tinged with drama, these series are still hugely funny and very watchable. Here are a few of my favourite comedy/dramas that have come out of the Nordic countries recently.
Dag is proof that as well as great drama, the Nordics do a great award winning comedy too. The series features the hapless Dag, a marriage counsellor, who is not a ‘people person’ and who thinks people should live in solitude. The acclaimed 10-part series has been popular to Norwegian audiences and critics alike. The show has become a regular winner at the Golden Screen Awards in Norway, with both Anders Baasmo Christiansen and Tuva Novotny taking home Best Actor and Best Actress awards in 2011 and 2012, as well as the show garnering Best Script in 2013. The series aired on Sky Arts a couple of years ago.
Rita, a Danish TV Series about a chain-smoking, rebellious middle-school teacher, has been a huge success worldwide. I love how independent Rita is, and how she tries to teach her grown-up children the importance of being true to yourself while struggling to know what she herself wants out of life. Be prepared for a lot of smoking, politically incorrect behaviour, many unsuitable boyfriends as well as much heartfelt drama and comedy about the Danish society.
Rita was so popular that it gave birth to a mini-series spin-off with Hjørdis, the young teacher, and Rita’s protege. Hjørdis plans a school play on bullying, featuring a cast of socially awkward students. I wasn’t too impressed with the new series, but perhaps I’d just had enough of the humorous reflections on the liberal Danish school.
Another Nordic comedy drama is Lilyhammer, a comic tale of a New York mobster who goes into hiding in rural Lillehammer in Norway after testifying against his former associates. It stars Steven Van Zandt and successfully combines a dark mafia story with comic small town Nordic characters. If you haven’t watched this tragi/comedy, do find it online and watch it now!
The Sunny Side
I also love The Sunny Side, a Swedish comedy about two couples who live in a well-heeled area of Stockholm archipelago (think Desperate Housewives meets Girl with a Dragon Tattoo). This series, which shows that the Swedes can laugh at themselves, is soon to be turned into a feature film. Read more about this comedy series in one my previous posts here.
The latest series of The Legacy, a Danish TV drama about a prolonged battle for the family inheritance and forgotten secrets caused by the death of a matriarch, is airing on Sky Arts in the UK at the moment. I really enjoyed series one and two of this family drama, but am not so sure of the latest offering. I’ve only seen two episodes so far, so perhaps it’s just a question of getting into the new plot. To me, the first two series were full of drama as well as comedy, whereas the latest season seems to be all about tragedy. Season two ended with all the issues raised in the first series more or less resolved, so it feels a little as if the characters have nothing to do, or nowhere to go. There just aren’t enough conflicts to explore.
Oh well, I will give the latest series a chance, because I just love the Danish accent and I’m a huge fan of one of the female leads, Trine Dyrholm. She was excellent as Queen Mother in A Royal Affair, a film about the British Princess Caroline, who, betrothed to the mad King Christian VII of Denmark, falls in love with her physician. (I wrote a review of the film here.)
If you haven’t seen The Legacy yet, I thoroughly recommend you watch the first two seasons at least. I particularly love the opening title sequence, where a vase of flowers explodes. You have to see it to understand what I mean!
Swedish TV (SVT) has created a new Nordic Noir comedy Fallet (The Case), which premiered in Sweden on April 14th.
Sophie Borg is a loner police inspector who doesn’t trust anyone. She has all the answers and will not hesitate to go against her superior’s direct orders. She also has a certain lack of self-awareness. (Sounds familiar? Think Saga Noren in The Bridge.)
When a British man falls victim to a macabre murder with religious overtones in her old hometown of Norrbacka, Sophie Borg gets one last chance at redemption.
From the victim’s home town of St Ives, Inspector Tom Brown (Adam Godley) is sent to Sweden to work with Sophie Borg. They must solve the case together, not only to save the small village from the killer’s reign of terror, but also to save their own careers.
The result looks to be an excellent spoof of a Nordic Noir police drama, and I rather liked the trailer (below). Sadly this series isn’t yet available for UK (or US) audiences, but I’m hoping that with an international theme and cast, it will be very soon.
Swedish Dicks is a Swedish comedy-drama about a former stuntman, Ingmar Andersson, who works as a private investigator in Los Angeles. He meets a struggling DJ, Axel Kruse, and together they form Swedish Dicks. The two solve various cases and compete with Ingmar’s long-time rival and owner of the best investigating company in Los Angeles, Jane McKinney.
Swedish Dicks is directed by Jon Holmberg & Peter Settman and written by Settman, Andrew Lowery & The Viking Brothers.
Swedish Dicks is soon to be screened in the US through cable and satellite network Pop TV. The drama/comedy series was first released on Nordic streaming service Viaplay and was the most in-demand original series in Sweden that year.
The Bonus Family
Last but by no means least, news that The Bonus Family, a TV series about two families linked via divorce, has just been acquired by Netflix. It’s a story about separation and creating new families while all along forced to maintain the old relationships. It’s a unique blend of comedy and drama, with accurate depictions of contemporary families as they have to raise each other’s kids, deal with ex-partners, and find a comfortable living environment for everyone. The Bonus Family will soon be available worldwide. Looks pretty good to me!
Do you love Nordic Noir but are yet to watch Nordic comedy? Let me know if you’ve watched all or some of the above series, or if you have a favourite Nordic comedy TV series – or film.
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