For those not native to Europe, it may come as a surprise that Scandinavia is known for its dark, serious, often depressing and gritty television shows. Some of the most acclaimed series to be released in recent years have come from the genre which is generally referred to as Scandinavian Noir, with entries such as the Millennium Series (whose first entry, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo became a international sensation) as well as the immensely popular, slice of life detective series, Wallander, which received a equally popular remake in Britain. Given how much great narrative fiction has come from Scandinavia, let us take a look at three of the best shows from the land of three major Nordic kingdoms.
This above mentioned detective drama is one of the most well known Scandinavian series of modern times and was inspired by the work of the Swedish crime novelist, Henning Mankell whose realism and attention to detail have netted praised from laymen and critics alike. The series revolves around the exploits of the titular character, Kurt Wallander, a brilliant police detective who lives in Ystad (a town near Malmo). The story follows Wallander as he becomes increasingly obessessed with his work which allows him a harbage from the emotional turmoil of his mundane life. Highly recommended for crime afficinados due to the focus on substance and realism over flash and pomp (though it can be a tad depressing).
Much like the previous mention, Occupied is a series which is known well outside of Scandinavia (it is currently being released on the English language channel, Pivot). The series takes place slightly into the future where a brash politician named Jesper Berg who seeks to rid Norway of oil in a move to help ease climate concerns. This triggers the Russian government to (as the name implies) occupy the country in a attempt to stop Berg’s revolutionary economic coup. Definitely recommended for political and thriller junkies alike.
3. The Bridge.
In rather typical fashion, this show, like so many other Scandinavian hits, was remade in the US as The Tunnel, which aired on PBS. The Bridge follows the exploits of two Scandinavian detectives, Saga Noren, a Swede, and Martin Rohde, a Dane, must put their collective skills together and their differences aside to discover the mystery behind a dead body which turns up on a bridge between their respective jurisdictions. The series certainly doesn’t shy away from the often dreary reality of police work so this one definitely is not for the faint of heart!