• (L - R) 'We Got This', 'Borgen', 'The Minister', 'State of Happiness'. (SBS)Source: SBS
There's got to be something in the Scandinavian waters that helps produce such high-quality television.
By
Ally Caracatsanis

18 Jan 2021 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2021 - 1:15 PM

At SBS it is obvious that we and our viewers love Nordic Noir, from The Killing (Denmark) to The Bridge (Sweden/Denmark), Trapped (Iceland) and Wisting (Norway), these incredible icy crime thrillers have had us hooked. But Scandinavia is not just limited to excelling in this genre, it's not all crime in the snow. It's time to step into the light with a line-up of Nordic Not Noir shows to add to your watch list. And you might see a familiar face or two.

 

Borgen

The producers of The Killing brought us the iconic sweater-wearing character of Sarah Lund and they also created political superhero statsminister Birgitte Nyborg in this critically acclaimed Danish drama series. Borgen follows the intricate and complicated lives of politicians, media spinners and reporters. Sidse Babett Knudsen stars as Nyborg, who becomes the first female Danish Prime Minister after scoring her party a landslide victory through her idealism, authenticity and tenacious work ethic. And thus she faces the biggest challenges of her life: how can she most effectively use the mandate, and how far is she willing to go to gain as much influence as possible? Will she be able to succeed as a top politician and stay true to herself at the same time?

The series looks at many aspects of the political sphere: the politicians, the journalists and the private lives of the players. It is superbly written. If you like political dramas then you can’t go past Borgen, which has to be one of, if not the best, political TV series ever. 

Borgen seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand (until 31 March 2021). 

 

The Minister

Let's stay political with the charismatic Ólafur Darri Ólafsso (who you will recognise from the Nordic Noir series Trapped) who plays your not-so-average politician Benedikt Ríkardsson in this Icelandic drama. Some call Ríkardsson an unorthodox radical; he calls himself an honest citizen of Iceland. Who better to be the voice of this great nation? Benedikt is not interested in power – he wants to listen to the people and improve the country. Radical or righteous? One thing is for sure, he will be a leader unlike any we’ve seen before – what the nation does not know is that Benedikt has an underlying bipolar disorder. As it worsens, the Prime Minister’s team and their allies are forced to endanger both the stability of the government and their private lives; some hide the condition while others abuse it.

‘The Minister’: Why we love Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
In ‘The Minister’ Ólafur Darri Ólafsson plays a politician who charms his way into Iceland’s top job. After the success of ‘Trapped’, he could probably do it for real.

The Minister is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

We Got This

Struggling from the collapse of his career and a sudden insurmountable tax debt, American immigrant George English (Schiaffino Musarra, who also created the series) stumbles onto a 50 million SEK reward for solving the murder of Olof Palme. He assembles a crew of misfits to assist him as he begins to imagine that solving this seemingly unsolvable crime of the century could be the answer to all of his problems, but the deeper they go into the labyrinth, the more dangerous their journey becomes. 

The murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme actually happened in 1986 and remains a bit of a mystery. This dark comedy pokes fun at the conspiracies surrounding the case and not the crime itself. It also features a familiar handsome face; Alexander Karim from The Lawyer plays English’s best friend who gets dragged into the chaos.

Winning Swedish crime comedy 'We Got This' stems from a real-life tragedy
There’s plenty of laughs when a bunch of bunglers tangle themselves in a web of conspiracy theories. But the assassination at the centre? It really happened.

We Got This is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

State of Happiness

It’s the summer of 1969 in the small coastal town of Stavanger, Norway. International oil companies have been test drilling for years, but nothing has been found and they are in the process of leaving. Stavanger lives off fish, but the North Sea is emptying out, so something has to happen. The town is in crisis. The night before Christmas, the largest sub-sea oil basin in history is found, and everything is about to change. This Norwegian drama series tells the story of Western prosperity, a changing nation, a Klondike town, and four young people who are thrown into a whirlwind of opportunities. Everything is moving, everything is new, it’s great, at times scary and threatening, unknown. How are they all going to deal with it?

State of Happiness is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

For Life

Norwegian procedural crime series For Life attempts to revitalise the episodic crime genre, with what the producers call “Happy Noir” (your classic Nordic Noir with added warmth and humour). We fast-forward to 2040 and top policewoman and brilliant investigator Victoria Woll (Tone Mostraum), in her early 60s, is in jail sentenced for life. But we also follow Victoria in the present day where she solves a unique crime that reveals a piece of the puzzle about how she ended up locked up. Interestingly, each episode is presented as a different sub-genre - i.e. political thriller, psychological thriller and even reality TV. As the series progresses, the mystery of why she ended up in jail is slowly revealed.

For Life is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Home Ground

This Norwegian drama looks at issues of gender equality and inclusion in sport. After leading her team to sensational results in European women’s football, coach Helena Mikkelsen (Ane Dahl Torp) finds her achievements ridiculed by the male experts of the football world. She is offered the role of assistant coach for the Norwegian Premier League men’s team, Varg IL. Not satisfied with being an assistant, Helena is able to expose the club’s weaknesses and convince the club director they are in bigger trouble than they realise, landing herself the historic job of head coach. But even though she is qualified, it doesn’t mean everyone will agree with or accept the decision. It’s not going to be an easy ride. 

'Home Ground' tackles football and feminism, Scandi style
The excitement of battles on and off the field along with the friendship and futures at stake make 'Home Ground' about so much more than football.

Home Ground seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Witch Hunt

We are staying in Norway with the whistle-blower financial thriller Witch Hunt. Inspired by true stories of whistle-blowers in Norway, fighting for justice and taking huge risks, these people often become targeted themselves – the systems that are meant to protect them can let them down, leaving them alone and unsupported with tremendous stress and fear. 

Peer Eggen (Mads Ousdal), a major finance and businessman, is positioning himself for an important acquisition, all while a troublesome tax case is on its way to court. Meanwhile, an invoice from an unknown Dutch company lands on the desk of Ida Waage (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), chief accountant at the influential law firm Biermann & Gude. The amount is modest, but seemingly lacks basis, and Ida discovers the invoice is part of a money laundering operation on behalf of B&G’s biggest client, Peer Eggen. She alerts the board, but instead of going after the ones responsible, they turn on her with harassment and fabricated accusations.

If you speak up against power, power hits back in new Norwegian drama 'Witch Hunt'
One single action triggers a scandal of national proportions in the Norwegian whistleblower drama 'Witch Hunt', now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Witch Hunt is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Exit

Based on shocking true stories from the exclusive world of Oslo’s high finance, this Norwegian drama follows four friends who seem to have it all. The men are driven by narcissism and getting whatever and whoever they want. At their private pad, they escape the boredom of their lives with hedonism and reckless partying. About 70% of the final script ended up coming straight from interviews, proving that fact is indeed stranger than fiction.

Enter ‘Exit’ ­– Norway’s new drama based on the real-life goings-on in the world of high finance
Set in Oslo, ‘Exit’ reveals the sex, drugs and partying taking place in this very private world from which there seems to be no escape.

Exit is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Pros and Cons

Meanwhile in Denmark, Erik (Lars Ranthe) and Nina (Lene Maria Christensen) are living a quiet, peaceful life in the suburbs of Copenhagen. They’re also two of Denmark’s most skilled con artists… or they were until they retired to raise a family. But when someone from their past arrives with a con too good to pass up (and the ability to destroy their new lives if they say no), their old life – and just possibly, the spark in their relationship – is back with a vengeance. With entertaining cons and family drama, this suburban crime comedy is stylish fun.

Crime is a family affair in ‘Pros and Cons’
Seventeen years ago married couple Nina and Erik left a life of crime to start a family. Now if they want to save their family, they’re going to have to go back to what they do best.

Pros and Cons is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

The Inner Circle

David Ehrling will stop at nothing to become Prime Minister in this Swedish political drama. The day before the Almedalen week is about to kick off Ehrling (Niklas Engdahl) receives a call from the current Prime Minister. She tells him that she’s about to resign and that during a press conference she will ‘single him out’ as her potential successor. This is exactly what he has been dreaming about. Together with his press secretary (spin doctor) Lena Nilsdotter (Nanna Blondell) they begin the extremely intensive work of making this succession a reality. But, at the same time as the news starts to spread, the media’s intense and comprehensive survey of who David Ehrling really is and what he did before he ended up in politics begins. Rumours start circulating, and one body after another is brought out of the closet with David soon finding himself in a shambles, one that affects not only him but also his family.

An intense, character-driven drama, The Inner Circle is a thriller that plays out over the course of several days and hooks you in with end-of-episode cliff-hangers.

The Inner Circle will be streaming at SBS On Demand from 28 January.

 

And for more Nordic Noir head to SBS On Demand.

 

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