Series review: This Is Not Sweden
- In a hilarious series, Aina Clotet and Mar Coll show that bringing up children without taking after our parents is more complicated than understanding the assembly instructions for Ikea furniture
Aina Clotet has had a great idea with the series This Is Not Sweden, undoubtedly one of the best Spanish audiovisual productions of the year! The actress plays the role of a one-woman band –like so many mothers in real life– and is also co-screenwriter and creative co-director with Mar Coll (Three Days with the Family [+see also:
film profile], We All Want What's Best for Her [+see also:
film profile]). She has decided to bring to the screen her heartaches, blunders, miseries, pathos, crushed careers and problems of this profession that nobody teaches and for which mathematical formulas are useless: procreation, educating children and, if possible, not repeating the same mistakes our parents made. And all with lots and lots of very, very clever and - even sexy - humour.
So, it is not surprising that This is Not Sweden (a great title) has been awarded the 2023 Prix Europa award for the Best TV Fiction Series of the Year. The full season will premiere on 28 November on RTVE Play, but the first episode can be seen the day before on the Catalan channel TV3, which will broadcast a new one every week. Divided into eight 40-minute episodes (entitled The Change, The Fear, The Limits, Self-awareness and Reconciliation, for example), it portrays a modern couple in their thirties of "eco-parents" who, wanting quality of life for their brood (a one-year-old baby and a super smart, mouthy and somewhat impertinent five-year-old), move away from Barcelona city centre to the mountains. There, they also discover that a blonde and (apparently) model Scandinavian family lives across the street, and to improve their parenting, they bring together other neighbours with similar insecurities in group therapy sessions where they share their concerns with a professional family psychologist.
It is with the statements from these desperate men and women, poured out in these group meetings, that each episode opens with the cliché that life is better in Scandinavia and that we Mediterraneans should imitate this society with a high quality of life and advanced teaching methods. Everyday reality will demonstrate, through sequences that are as amusing as they are authentic, that perfection and control, in terms of human relations, is a fantasy from a furniture catalogue.
Aina Clotet herself (recently seen in The Enchanted [+see also:
film profile] and the series Burning Body) heads the cast of This is Not Sweden alongside an equally wonderful Marcel Borràs (who starred in El inmortal [+see also:
series profile] and Patria [+see also:
series profile]), supported by Nora Navas (who also appears in another great series this season, La Mesías [+see also:
series profile]), Enric Auquer (in Spanish cinemas with El maestro que prometió el mar), Tomás del Estal (Verano en rojo [+see also:
film profile]), Liv Mjönes (Midsommar), Mabel Rivera (the series Rapa [+see also:
series profile]) and Nausicaa Bonnín (Un cel de pom [+see also:
film profile]), among others. All of them experience hilarious situations and hold discussions as important as, for example, the healthiness of sweets, premature alopecia, whether or not to go to the Primavera Sound music festival or the narcotic role of Disney films such as Frozen. In short, life itself.
This is Not Sweden, a series created by Aina Clotet with Valentina Viso and Daniel González, is produced by Spanish companies Nanouk Films and Funicular Films with Swedish company Anagram Sweden, co-produced by RTVE, 3Cat, SVT (Sweden), NDR (Germany) and YLE (Finland). Sara Fantova and Celia Giraldo also directed some episodes.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
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