A few months ago a friend gave me a box set of a Swedish sitcom called Solsidan. Now, you know I’m a sucker for dark Scandi crime and political thrillers (Wallander, The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge but to name a few), and I truly, truly love a good old Ingmar Bergman film, but Swedish comedy?
Nja, as the Swedes would themselves put it.
So the Solsidan boxset stood next to the TV for weeks. Each time my friend asked if I’d seen it yet, I’d make up some excuse or other. Until I was laid down with a bad back last autumn, did I even consider (out of sheer boredom and lack of choice!) watching Solsidan.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, I watched the whole of the first series in a day, and then even convinced The Englishman to watch Series 2 and 3 with me. We both fell about laughing at the thirty/forty something modern Stockholm Yuppies trying to make sense of their lives.
Solsidan tells the story of a dentist, Alex, and his pregnant girlfriend Anna, who decide to buy Alex’ old family home, from his mother, in a Stockholm suburb. But this is no ordinary suburb, it’s a community by the sea, only a short commute from the centre of town called Saltsjöbaden, where the wealthy Swedes with small children live.
The first problem the couple face is Alex’ mother, who has quietly misunderstood the new living arrangements and believes she will share the house with the young couple. Alex mother is brilliantly played by Mona Malm. She is the archetypical passive-aggressive, always interfering mother. She is perfectly juxtaposed against Anna, a liberal-minded actress who feels more than alien in the affluent community.
The other couple at the centre of the story is Alex’ old wealthy schoolfriend, Fredde, who’s ideas on life are more than a little skewed by money, and his skinny, blonde, keeping-up-with-the-Jones, wife, Mickan. Lastly, there is Ove, another old schoolfriend, who’s a master of emotional blackmail which he uses fully to his advantage – usually financial.
The writing of the series is excellent. Some stories are dealt within the episode, while others have a slow burn effect and explode at the end of the series. This kind of sitcom writing is very effective, it makes the episode by episode plot seem less artificial and clumsy. The acting is also brilliant; the characters have grown on me so much, that having now finished the series, I miss them! But the main point why the series is so good is that it’s plainly and simply very funny. Plus, (for a Finn at least) watching the well-heeled Stockholmare laugh at themselves is quite a treat….
I do hope someone at the Beeb, or ITV, or Sky, have the presence of mind bring this fabulous TV series to Britain. I know it’d be a great success here too.
Here is a clip for those who speak Swedish and have yet to see this fab sitcom.