Nordic Watchlist Best of 2021: TV SERIES

Well without doubt it has been a HUGE year for both television and film from the Nordic region, and here at Nordic Watchlist we have had many, MANY discussions about picking out some of our favourites.

To be honest, it has been near impossible because every time we agree on one, we remember another that is just as good. When your year starts off with the likes of Monster and The Investigation, you know the bar has been raised, big time, but what else came along during the course of the year and kept us glued to our sofa?

After much deliberation, here are our Top 10 TV series that we enjoyed this year and if, IF, you haven’t seen any of these yet then get them on that watchlist of yours! (it is worth noting that some of these series were released in previous years but only became accessible to the UK this year).

10. Elves (Netflix)

We had to squeeze Elves in, based on the fact that it was something really different, it had short episodes to whizz through, and as it is set at Christmas but something a little darker to enjoy!

9. Man in Room 301 (BBC)

This series was one of the first-ever from Finland to be featured on the BBC and it was a fantastic entry for the channel. To make things slightly different it was predominantly set in Greece so instead of the gloomy rain and grey skies we were met with a bright sunshine and a thriller that twisted and turned over the course of an engaging 6 episodes.

8. The Chestnut Man (Netflix)

Adapting one of the most well-loved Nordic Noirs of our time was a bold move by Netflix but they went there and they really delivered. With a strong cast including Danica Curcic, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, Lars Ranthe, and David Dencik (the latter most recently seen in No Time to Die) the series did not shy away from the brutality of the book.

This series shows that even in an over-saturated Nordic Noir market, if done right, they can still deliver.

7. Partisan (Walter Presents)

In the same vein as Monster, we found Partisan to be just as bonkers and engaging owed in particular to an absolutely brilliant performance from excellent Fares Fares. The series had a 70s paranoia feel to it and had moments of comedy and violence break out at any moment.

Netflix’s The Chestnut Man was an excellent adaptation of the famous novel.

6. Monster (Walter Presents)

Walter Presents recently released it’s ‘Top 5 Most Watched Shows’ this year and Monster was at number 3! This series was by no means everyone’s cup of tea but we thoroughly enjoyed the oddness of the series and the stunning location where it was filmed (right up in Northern Norway). There was a hint of a Twin Peaks feel to the show, a naked fight between two old men, and a wonderful performance from it’s young star Agnes Born!

5. Snabba Cash / Young Royals (Netflix)

Continuing the theme of shaking things up and introducing us to something a little more fresh from the Nordic region, Netflix brought us an updated revision of the Snabba Cash movies which was an absolute slap in the face from the moment the credits kicked in. Its urban, modernised take was enthralling and boasted some unbelievable performances from the experienced Evin Ahmed but most notably from Alexander Abdallah (who won an award for his role) and Ali Alarik.

Whilst we are on the note of fresh takes then Young Royals was really quite something with the most tender and touching performance by it’s leads Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) and Simon (Omar Rudberg), as a pair of students attending a very posh boarding school and falling in love. Only problem is Simon is part of the Royal Family which brings it’s own complications.

Both series have been such a huge hit that second series are expected in 2022!

4. Post Mortem: Everyone Dies in Skarnes (Netflix)

This series came out of nowhere back in August and we absolutely bloody loved it. When discussing the series with one of its stars Elias Holmen Sorenson he described it as a ‘Vampire Noir’ series, a welcome detour from the same old detective-driven crime series. Post Mortem takes you to Norway where a brother and sister cope with a failing funeral home and turning into a vampire. It is brilliant!

3. Katla (Netflix)

We had been patiently waiting for Katla for sometime we the wait was finally over in June when the series was released on Netflix. Director Baltasar Kormakur is a famous name from Iceland whom has directed great movies such as The Deep, Jar City, Everest, and 101 Reykjavik. Here, he goes down a spooky almost sci-fi route with Icelandic series Katla and we were totally hooked. It needs some patience, but during those moments do be prepared to be wowed by the incredible landscape shots (and real footage of an Icelandic eruption).

2. When The Dust Settles (Walter Presents)

This series was a huge success when it was released in Denmark and we finally got to see why when it got released here in the UK in September through Walter Presents. It is hard to convey in words what a genius piece of narrative this series plays and how it completely and utterly absorbs you with its characters and story arc (that goes from present, to past, to future). An absolute masterpiece when it comes to television!

1. The Investigation / The Hunt for a Killer (BBC)

We had to put these in joint first place – as both of these series that were featured on BBC were remarkable. These were not Nordic Noir, but series based on true crime, and it was a truly refreshing take from the Nordic region.

The Investigation was a littered with famous faces including the excellent Soren Malling, whilst The Hunt For A Killer had lesser-known stars but ones that kept you absolutely captivated by their performance!

Feature by Alex and Claire Minnis