TV Shows of the Pandemic

I decided to make lists of my favorite media that I consumed the past five years. That’s TV shows and books, mostly, because there hasn’t been much opportunity to watch movies in the cinema or go to concerts.

Starting with TV shows: The past two years have seen me spend a lot of evenings at home, watching more TV than ever. It’s a good thing we live in a time of great TV show content!

I’m not including any of the new Star Trek or Star Wars show, even though I watched them all. If they’re the kind of thing you like, then you’ve already watched them, and you know what you thought of them. Personally, I think they were a very mixed bag.

1. Counterpart

J.K. Simons gives a magnificent performance in this sci-fi thriller about an alternate universe. The show is filmed in Berlin and benefits from the cold war esthetic of that city. The cast includes Olivia Coleman, another personal favorite.

Introduction of the first season, with very mild spoilers.

I’m afraid that saying much about the show would be spoiling it. There is a second season that ends the show nicely, and no future seasons planned.

2. Money Heist (Casa de Papel)

This show was a phenomenon, and approximately everyone has seen it already.

3. The Bridge (Broen/Bron)

The Swedish/Danish original, not the US remake. Saga Norén is perhaps my favorite character in a TV show or movie. She’s a detective with the Malmö criminal police, solving a series of serial murders, and she has high functioning Aspergers. Some of her coworkers know how to handle that, others emphatically do not.
The enormous Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark connects the cases that she and her Danish counterpart must solve, and they are twisty and complex, always delivering that last-minute surprise resolution.

Kim Bodnia plays her colleague Martin in the first two seasons, he’s another of my favorites, and I was sad when he got replaced, but his replacement is an interesting character in his own right.

I watched this on Netflix in the original Swedish/Danish language with Norwegian subtitles (English is available in other countries) which taught me a couple of useful new Danish phrases, and improved my listening comprehension. Season four ends the show, and it seems unlikely there will be more. God, I miss Saga so much.

4. Home for Christmas

Not all Scandinavian shows have to be crime dramas. Netflix’s first Norwegian production is a comedy about the difficulties of dating life, something I’ve experienced myself to some degree, and delivered some great, true-to-life characters and many, many laughs. I don’t think this is just a show for girls, it’s for any observer of Norwegian life.

It’s definitely not her fault that she can’t find a guy. It’s the guys who are terrible.

I watched it on Netflix in the original language. Subtitles are available in other locations. As someone who has been studying Norwegian culture from the outside for many years, especially the obsession with Christmas dinners and dating, there was a lot to recognize and smile about.

5. The Killing

I am late to the party, and have only just started watching this show, but it looks very promising. The main character is not going to replace Saga Norén in my heart, but the show is absolutely fixing that Scandinavian crime shaped hole in my viewing schedule.

If your detective had dark hair and wears a knitted sweater, you are watching the correct show.

I don’t have much to say about this, as I’m still in Season 1, except that it feels like the titular crime seems to be getting more detailed and gruesome with each episode, and I still haven’t a clue who the killer could be.

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