One of my favourite things about the festive season is having long, cosy nights in, wrapped in a blanket, with a fire blazing and episode-upon-episode of a Scandinavian TV show playing. My family first got into the Nordic Noir genre a few years ago, around this time of year, and since then we’re always on the lookout for the next binge-worthy box set.
The elements that make up these stunning shows produce captivating viewing that is unlike anything else. From the dry humour, intricate backstories and strong female leads, to the moody cinematography, emotive characters and suspenseful plot lines.
My top three picks capture all of these elements spectacularly:
This is the first Scandinavian TV series I ever watched and I was honestly blown away by how brilliant it was. The action starts with Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lund’s last day of work in the Copenhagen Police Station as she prepares to emigrate to Sweden. However, her move comes to a halt when the station hears news of a crime that will shake the whole city; Sarah is compelled to stay in Denmark to solve it. Over the next 20 days, an intensive investigation takes us all on a thrilling ride through corruption, secrecy, and the hunt for a killer.
One of the most striking things about this show is how human they make Sarah Lund. Yes, she saves the day a lot and solves many of the mysteries along the way, but that only highlights her strife in her home environment: dealing with her family and everyday interactions, and ultimately her struggle to balance the importance of her personal life, as she tries to initiate the move to be with her Swedish boyfriend, with the pressure she puts on herself to stay in Denmark and be responsible for solving such a heinous crime.
The most impressive thing? She manages to look fierce whilst doing all of this in a Christmas jumper.
In many ways, The Bridge holds a lot of similarities with The Killing: yet another strong female lead, a gripping crime and a story that straddles Denmark and Sweden. This time however, a body, or rather two halves of two bodies, are found on the bridge between these two countries. And so the hunt for a serial killer begins, a collaborative effort between socially-challenged Swedish Detective Saga Noren and slightly impulsive Danish Detective Martin Rohde.
In my opinion, the best thing about The Bridge is watching Saga and Martin’s relationship grow as they try to fight crime together; at the start, working with each other seems to challenge them just as much as the mystery that’s set out before them, and witnessing them overcome these difficulties makes for a satisfying, and humorous, series.
Slightly different to the other two, Borgen, from the producers of The Killing, is more centred around politics. It follows Birgitte, newly elected Danish Prime Minister, as she fights for the policies she believes in. Less dramatically dark than the others, yet in some ways more ominous, Borgen covers corruption and the contentions of power in a world of politicians and journalists.
The main question raised in this series is how far will powerful people go to get what they want, and what compromises will they make along the way?
This Christmas I think I’ll end up watching at least one of these shows again, to get me in the mood for the release of Season 4 of The Bridge in early 2018, which I am unbelievably excited for.
Do you have any TV show recommendations for the festive season? Let me know in the comments below!
Want to read more Blogmas posts? Scroll to the bottom of Day One for the full list.