Six addictive Swedish TV series to binge-watch that aren’t Nordic noir

Swedish TV has become almost synonymous with Nordic noir, but there are plenty more Swedish series out there that are well worth discovering.

Six addictive Swedish TV series to binge-watch that aren't Nordic noir
The cast of historical drama Vår tid är nu. Photo: Johan Paulin/SVT

Scandinavian crime dramas like Bron (The Bridge), Innan vi dör (Before we die) and Wallander have achieved huge global success, and the trend doesn't seem to be dying away any time soon. In 2017 Netflix commissioned its first ever Swedish language original series, Störst av allt (Quicksand), based on a bestselling detective novel and set to go into production this year.

But for evenings when you want something other than a moody murder mystery, Swedish television still has a lot to offer, from comedy to family drama. The best thing is that you can binge on these shows guilt-free in the knowledge that your Swedish is bound to improve.

Here are a few of The Local's top picks, and tips on where you can watch them even if you're not in Sweden.

Fallet | The Case

We promised no Nordic noir, but this series is a spoof on the genre that ends up being more of a dark comedy. Instead of the straight-talking, quick-thinking detectives Scandinavian drama fans might be used to, Fallet features an incompetent duo given one last chance to prove themselves.

When an Englishman is killed in Norrbacka just north of Stockholm, Swedish detective Sophie Borg must team up with her British counterpart Tom Brown (the show is in both Swedish and English, similar to the bilingual Bron). Expect eccentric characters, culture clashes, and plenty of self-aware humour.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Bonusfamiljen | Bonus Family

We're big fans of this show which follows the lives of a new couple, their exes, and three children navigating life as a modern family. The programme captures the messiness and awkward moments of family life while keeping things light and unpredictable and without becoming too didactic.

Where to watch it: Netflix, which acquired global rights to the comedy-drama last year, has the first series only. In Sweden, the programme was broadcast on SVT with the third series scheduled to air early in 2019.

Welcome to Sweden

This bilingual English-Swedish series follows an American who quits his job to move with his Swedish wife to her home country, and features plenty of relatable moments for anyone who else who's made the move. Nude sauna visit with the in-laws, anyone? It's totally charming, easy-watching, and a good way to improve your Swedish — and, if applicable, show your Swedish friends and family that you're not the only foreigner perplexed by the quirks of the Swedes. Read The Local's interview with the show's writer and star, Greg Poehler, here.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Åkta Människor | Real Humans

This sci-fi show was made in 2012-13, and if you've not watched it yet, it's a perfect binge-watching opportunity, though be warned: it gets creepy, fast. Set in an alternative near-future Sweden where androids are a normal part of society, it throws up a lot of uncomfortable questions about the role of technology in our lives.

Where to watch: It's on Hulu, or alternatively since it's slightly older than some of the others on this list, DVD versions are likely to be affordable or even available from local libraries.

Vår tid är nu | The Restaurant

Set in post-war Sweden, this drama tells the story of an affluent Stockholm family and the kitchen staff who work in their restaurant. Daughter Nina has dreams of opening up a jazz club and embarks on a secret romance with one of the cooks, while her brothers are in a tug-of-war over who gets control of the family business.

It's a great way of getting a sense of Swedish history; the trailer features historical footage of Stockholm and the series touches on issues from abortion to unionization. It's been a huge hit in Sweden, and you can read more about the series here.

Where to watch: Viewers in Sweden can catch up on the first series on SVT Play, and those based abroad shouldn't have long to wait as the series was acquired by Viasat World in December.

Tjockare än vatten | Thicker than water

An innkeeper on a Finnish archipelago island invites her grown-up children to visit, but while the scenery might be dreamy, it's a dark storyline. After the mother's sudden death, the siblings are left to run the inn together and work through buried family secrets, otherwise they'll lose their inheritance.

Where to watch: Netflix, and in the UK, it's available on Channel 4's streaming service while Australia's SBS On Demand also has the series.

And finally, a bonus series coming soon to a screen near you…


HBO Europe's first Swedish original is coming soon to the streaming service, and it's an eight-part comedy series following a child psychologist who moves from the city to rural Småland. There's a while to wait until this one hits the small screen, though, with the premiere planned for autumn 2019.

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The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden’s cost of living crisis

Households in Sweden, as elsewhere around the world, are feeling the economic squeeze right now as prices rise, but wages don’t. Here's a vocabulary list from Anneli Beronius Haake to help you understand the cost of living crisis.

The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden's cost of living crisis

The Local reached out to Anneli Beronius Haake (Swedish Made Easy), Swedish teacher and author of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish, to put together a list of words you might hear and read in the upcoming weeks as prices continue to soar.

(ett) elprisstöd – literally, electricity price support. The government may choose to provide support to both individuals and businesses, to help cope with high electric costs.

(ett) högkostnadsskydd – high cost protection. There have previously been discussions about high cost protections to cap electricity prices or agreements for the government to cover everything over a certain amount, but following the recent elections, the status of this proposal is unclear.

(en) amortering vs (en) ränta – if you own your own house or apartment, then you already know that these words refer to payments on your mortgage (noun: amortering, verb: att amortera) and payments against the interest on your mortgage. If you’re thinking about buying, keep an eye on these two – and on interest rates (ränta)!

(en) varmhyra vs (en) kallhyra – if you’re on the market for a new rental apartment, you might see these two words pop up. Varmhyra (literally: “warm rent”) means heating is included in the rental price. Kallhyra (literally, “cold rent”) means that the rental price does not include heating costs.

(en) uppvärmning – heating, or heating costs. If your heating costs are included in your rent, you don’t have to worry about this. Instead, you only need to keep an eye on:

(en) hushållsel – or household electricity. This covers the electricity you use for everything in your home, from charging your mobile phone to using your oven.

Energisnål – energy efficient. You might see this word stuck on a dishwasher or fridge if you’re shopping for new household appliances, signalling that it will help cut down on your electric costs. Similarly, you may see the word att snåla (to scrimp or save) used in the phrases att snåla med energi (to save on energy) or att snåla med pengar (to save money).

(en) energikris – an energy crisis. 

privatekonomi – personal finances. You may see this not only referring to individuals, but also to households, where it will be written as hushållens privatekonomi.

hushållskostnader – household costs, again, linked to hushållens privatekonomi, this usually refers to gemensamma kostnader (shared costs), such as water and electricity bills, insurance and internet, but can also cover other costs such as food, hygiene products such as toilet paper, and even mobile phone contracts.

(ett) energibolag, (en) elproducent – an energy company, an energy producer.

(en) elområde – an energy zone. Sweden is split into four energy zones, with the most expensive energy prices in the south of the country, covering the three largest cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö (zones 3 and 4), and the cheapest prices in the north (zones 1 and 2).

Att spara – to save. This can be in the sense of att spara pengar (to save money), or att spara på kostnader/el (to save on costs/electricity).

Att stiga/öka/höja – these three verbs all relate to increases, but with their own nuances.

Att stiga, or stiger in the present tense means ‘rises’, and can be used to describe rising petrol prices.

Att öka, or ökar in the present tense means ‘increases’, and can be used to describe how the price of groceries are increasing.

Finally, att höja, or höjer in the present tense means ‘raises’ – when you can point out that something or someone has raised the price of something, for example, when describing how banks are raising interest rates.

Att sjunka/minska – these two verbs both relate to decreases, again with their own nuances.

Att sjunka, or sjunker in the present tense (literally sinking) means fall/slump/drop, and can be used to refer to price falls.

Att minska, or minskar, on the other hand, is like ökar, because it is used when describing how something has decreased, like your electricity usage might decrease this winter in light of rising prices.

Similarly to sjunka, you may see the verb att sänka (to lower), in the sense of lowering the heating (att sänka värmen) or lowering household costs (att sänka hushållskostnader).

(en) utgift – an expense, plural utgifter – expenses.

(en) inkomst – income. A source of income would be (en) inkomstskälla.

(en) plånbok – literally, this means wallet. Figuratively, it also means your bank account and its contents. Headlines about money leaving your plånbok don’t mean money is vanishing from your wallet, but from your bank account. During the recent Swedish election, for example, politicians spoke about plånboksfrågor (literally “wallet issues”), issues affecting people’s income and spending power.

Att dra ner på utgifterna – to cut down on your expenses. This is related to the phrase att se över utgifterna: to take a look at your expenses, for example to see if there are any areas you can cut down.

Att dra åt svångremmen – to tighten one’s belt.