In summarizing 2020, Insiderius selected seven TV series that “went under the radar” – little was written or spoken about them, even though they are worth as much attention as the most popular TV shows.
Love and anarchy / Kärlek och anarki
The most unusual romcom of the past year starts with masturbation. A pretty blonde from Stockholm named Sophie, who was hired by an intellectual book publisher to work as a consultant and move his business to an online platform, one evening in an empty office decides to indulge herself right at her work computer. But here’s the bad luck: a young IT specialist Max is spying on her, and even removes her joys on the phone. He agrees to destroy the dirt in exchange for lunch in a nearby eatery – this is how the strange relationship of a prosperous family woman and an unsettled boy begins.
Sophie and Max start a game without rules, where each comes up with another task “weak”: for example, Sophie has to walk around the office all day, and Max – to turn a boring business lunch into a booth. Soon, from their fun, which is becoming more and more risky, the publishing business begins to burst at the seams and almost goes bankrupt. The series touches on all sorts of topics: feminism, the widespread departure of business online and the displacement of intellectual life by the ubiquitous pop culture. In addition, this Nordic rom-com rejects all the usual canons of the genre and instead creates new ones: love here is not erotic escapades, not a banal family adultery and not a forbidden affair of an adult lady with a young guy, but a rebellion of two people against the very social foundations of society. The desire to escape from the dusty, regulated society to the strawberry meadows was latently ripening in the souls of both, but did not find a way out. But now they have met – and now they cannot be kept.
The Scots have their own pride: in 2019, BBC Scotland began broadcasting with original local programming – if previously the Scots were supplied with British content from the BBC, now it should be 95 percent local. The new channel’s first own series was “Guilt” by local playwright Neil Forsythe. This is a crime thriller that begins as a comedy of mistakes: returning drunkenly from a wedding by car, on a quiet street on the outskirts of Edinburgh, two brothers, Jake and Max, run over a man. He jumped out under the wheels in the dark as if from nowhere, but the brothers are in no hurry to call an ambulance – not only is Jake drunk, but also stoned, he has no insurance, and Max, a lawyer by profession, let him drive.
The victim is not breathing, Jake finds his wallet, and realizes that this man, Walter, lived in a nearby house. After dragging the body inside, the brothers find a letter from the doctor, from which it follows that Walter was already dying of the last stage of cancer. And given that he is not scratched, everyone will decide that he just died at home. Having seated the corpse in a chair, the brothers retreat. But after a week it turns out that Jake forgot his wallet with Walter! Scottish actor Jamie Seives, who played Jake, is terribly similar to Sergei Shnurov, and the adventures of the rogue brothers drowning in lies from the series “the claw got stuck – the whole bird is lost” – a black comedy, shot by the Coen brothers in collaboration with Danny Boyle. British observers did not hesitate to write that if the Scots continue to make such series, they will eventually promote their not-so-popular channel.
Back in 2013, the American comedian David Byrd came up with a character for promotion that was the complete opposite of himself. Byrd’s idea is that his alter ego, a flimsy Jewish neurotic named Dave, goes into rappers and takes on the stage name Lil Dicky (that is, “Tiny Penis”) – here’s a parody of the toxic masculinity that dominates rap culture. Under this name, Byrd recorded the first video, posted it on Youtube – and away we go: the song gained over a million views, and the fictional comedic character turned into a real popular rapper. The career that Byrd started for the sake of joke as a game and a parody suddenly turned into a real one: he got so accustomed to the image that he has not stopped since then and six years later he records with such famous musicians as Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran.
The sitcom, directed by Superbad director Greg Motolla, tells the story of Lil Dickie’s rise from the start. Here is a timid newcomer trying to take his first steps in the world of tough men, hung with chains and chanting their lyrics, and declared like a fool from the cold, to the famous rapper YG. He demands ten thousand for the video recording, and Dave reluctantly gutted the stash – the money set aside for the bar mitzvah. The whole truth about what the masculine environment of real rappers really is, and how a clown like Dave managed to break through in it, honestly tells the postmodern sitcom of Bird and Mottola.
How to with John Wilson
A humorous documentary series filmed by a film school graduate who managed to work as an assistant to a private detective. This is very noticeable in Wilson’s manner of shooting – a keen eye, attention to the smallest details of life and the ability to uncritically notice all the absurdities of life. Under the guise of educational short films “How to Make Small Talk” or “How to Make the Perfect Risotto”, Wilson talks about the eternal: about the loneliness of a person in society, the physiology of a big city and the strange way of life of its inhabitants. It seems that Wilson jumps in his story from the fifth to the tenth, but in fact, everything here is subject to impeccable logic. For example, talking about his cat tearing up furniture, he begins to dive into the topic of furniture covers and discovers the following: a huge number of people are packing exquisite furniture in ugly plastic covers,
And the city is arranged in exactly the same way: dividers are attached to the benches so that people do not sleep on them, fire hydrants are protected with thorns so that people do not sit on them, fences and fences are everywhere so that neither the person nor his pets wander where they should. But the world still wears out and falls apart, and trying to keep some things from decay and decay is a waste of work. In the final episode, trying to concentrate on making risotto, Wilson leaves to get some air at a ski resort, and upon his return, he finds the city and the world in lockdown – no more ridiculous than before, and, it seems, gone crazy long before the pandemic. So the seemingly incoherent stream of consciousness of a New York documentary filmmaker becomes a poetic reflection of reality in all its beauty and madness.
In the dense forest / W głębi lasu (In the Woods)
Last year, Netflix released two adaptations of the prolific American detective Harlan Coben, whom Stephen King loved so much that he even made an episodic character in his novel “Stranger”. The action of “Stranger” with Richard Armitage was moved from the American hinterland to England, and the series received good viewership ratings, but the Polish film adaptation of the novel “In a Dense Forest” passed almost unnoticed, although there is much more script logic and artistic quality in it. The plot is as follows: in 1994, at the very end of a shift in a summer camp, four teenagers left after a disco into the forest. The bodies of two with knife wounds were soon found, but two others were missing, including Kamila, the sister of the protagonist Pavel Kopinsky. Twenty years later, Kopiński becomes a prosecutor, and in the forest near the former children’s camp, human remains are found. Trying to unravel that old case and find the missing sister, Kopinsky becomes the main suspect in the murder – the police find the corpse of an unknown man under a bridge in the suburbs of Warsaw, and with him newspaper clippings about the case of the missing children and about Pavel’s current activities as a prosecutor. The Poles managed to cross an adventurous intrigue with the tradition of psychological realism – it turned out to be an amusing genre opus about a prosecutor-truth-teller – as if Krzysztof Kieslowski filmed a slasher about the massacre in a summer camp. and with him newspaper clippings about the case of the missing children and about Paul’s current activities as a prosecutor. The Poles managed to cross an adventurous intrigue with the tradition of psychological realism – it turned out to be an amusing genre opus about the prosecutor-truth-teller – as if Krzysztof Kieslowski filmed a slasher about the massacre in a summer camp. and with him newspaper clippings about the case of the missing children and about Paul’s current activities as a prosecutor. The Poles managed to cross an adventurous intrigue with the tradition of psychological realism – it turned out to be an amusing genre opus about the prosecutor-truth-teller – as if Krzysztof Kieslowski filmed a slasher about the massacre in a summer camp.
Into the Night
Another successful last year’s project of Netflix – this time the film adaptation of the Polish post-apocalyptic Jacek Dukai’s “The Old Age of the Axolotl”, which was filmed by a Belgian team under the supervision of an American showrunner. The action starts right off the bat and does not let the viewer go until the last shot: this is an ideal short series for “drunken watching”. An airplane takes off from the Brussels airport to Moscow, which immediately after the climb is captured by a terrorist with a machine gun. He calls himself a NATO officer with classified information, orders the pilots to turn the plane and keep heading west all the time. According to him, at dawn, solar radiation should kill all living things on earth, and you can only survive by racing against dawn. At first, the imaginary NATO member is mistaken for a madman. However, upon landing in Reykjavik, it turns out that some incomprehensible attack really killed all the people in the area. From now on, the plane will move into the night, flying away from the sun, and passengers and crew of different social backgrounds and nationalities will try to survive together. Only at the same time, everyone has different ideas about justice and good, as well as different plans and intentions, and they all manifest themselves at critical moments that occur every five minutes on this crazy journey.
The burnt out star of local porn Jolene Dollar meets helpless debutant Amy on the set, sees herself in her at the beginning of her career, and her heart melts. This Amy is a walking disaster: babbling something that she hurt her knee, and because of this she did not get the job of a dancer, but here she is temporarily. On the very first shooting of a video for adults, the girl is seriously injured – and now the compassionate Jolene defends her interests before the whole world. Because of Amy, she is even ready to quarrel with her old friend-producer Carroll, although in reality everything is more complicated here – once he seriously framed Jolene, bringing him to a scum porn actor. And now a conflict flares up between Carroll and Jolene – she announces on social networks that he is negligent about the safety of the actors, and he is suing her. Since the show is British, then it is based on a production drama in the spirit of the trademark British “kitchen realism”, but in reality it has as many funny moments as serious ones. This is a story about female deceit (Amy turns out to be not at all as naive as it seems) and female solidarity (a woman from Parliament comes to the aid of Jolene), and a parody of the British subculture chavs, and a story about a girl who broke out from the bottom, went through fire and water in the porn industry, but remained fragile and naive, like a debutante.