Toppen: A Non-Spoiler Review

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Poster for the Swedish comedy series Toppen (The Top)

🇸🇪 TOPPEN 🇸🇪

Toppen (The Top) is a Swedish Amazon Prime original comedy series. 6 episodes of around 30 minutes duration, rated 15 UK. In Swedish with subtitles.

Premise:

“Follows laugh-out-loud characters in events with high twists of satire and politics, against a local backdrop.” IMDb

Cast:

Klara Hodell as Lisa Langås
Sissela Benn as Roxanne Wiklund
Robert Gustafsson as Kaminsky
Daniel Hallberg as Bill Nyberg
Felicia Danielsson as Saga Gudmundsdottir
Leif Andrée as Jan
Sanna Sundqvist as Elsa
Doreen Ndagire as Lucas Manager
Tommy Körberg as Prime Minister
Christopher Wollter as Mikael
Eric Stern as Björn
Dilan Apak as Berivan
Hulda Lind Johansdottier as Pingis
Kitt Walker as Josef
Dag Malmberg as Gunnar

Crew:


Director: Sara Haag
Creators: Adrian Boberg, Jessica Ericstam
Writers: Adrian Boberg, Jessica Ericstam, Per Gavatin, Sara Haag, Anna Granath, Jacob Seth Fransson
Composer: Anders af Klintberg
Editor: Peter Wendin

Locations:


Stockholm, Sweden
Gotland, Sweden

Review:

I was excited about Toppen (The Top) when I first heard it was due to arrive as the first-ever Swedish Amazon Prime Original. I had the date written on my phone calendar and duly hopped onto Prime Video only to face disappointment. Why, do I hear you ask? Let me explain… Whilst the nice poster and description for the series were up and there were even neat little boxes for each of the 6 episodes what exactly was sitting in those slots? Nothing, zilch, nada, ingenting. Because I’m not one to give up easily I checked the next day, and the next… after a couple of weeks had passed I checked a further time… pointless. In truth, I then put the show aside in my head.

Having duly forgotten about it a week or so ago I checked again and… a miracle, the episodes were there. Aside from muttering “About time!” I was also pleased because I could finally watch it. The cast was strong, the concept seemed promising (this is someone who loved Yes, Minister back in the day) and I love a good comedy (or something with comedic elements).

What could possibly go wrong? As it happens, quite a lot.

They say that a week is a long time in politics and, as it turns out, 6 not very long episodes can sometimes seem like a very, very long time as a viewer.

But let us start with the positives, the acting in this is very good. I also really quite enjoyed the first 3 episodes which (and this is pretty much a prerequisite for a comedy) made me laugh. There were some potentially interesting characters and potential running gags to exploit.

At this very point, I was thinking to myself that here, at long last, was a Swedish comedy series that would do what it says on the tin (I don’t mean canned laughter by the way) and be… well… be funny. But then… then the wheels started to loosen.

Episode 4 went to Visby, which I have to say is a gorgeous location (so lovely, in fact, for it to go on the itinerary of my next trip to Sweden) but this was the most enjoyable part of this episode which overall I found painful, unfunny, infantile and somewhat cruel.

It’s another fact that I did actually laugh in the final 2 episodes – twice. I’m not entirely sure why the wheels had fallen off by this stage but by now they were running past the vehicle itself.

One of my issues with Toppen is that I found most of the characters more than slightly annoying stereotypes and that they didn’t have much depth. As a woman of, let us say, more mature years, I found the character of the middle-aged female receptionist more of an insult than funny. The archetypal playboy politician is a trope, as is the woman who falls to pieces when she sees him again only to exact a frankly dubious revenge. I know I was meant to dislike the female politician (at least, I think I was supposed to dislike her or was I?) but she wasn’t even funny as a result. I certainly didn’t feel like virtually voting for her at any moment. For me, Robert Gustafsson was underutilised in this.

On a technical point, the lack of English-language subtitles for mobile phone text messages is not a good omission. I could read the text and understand it but how on earth will anyone who doesn’t speak any Swedish? The accuracy of the subtitles seemed off at times as well.

By the end of the final episode of Toppen, I was distinctly “colour me disappointed”. After all, that time waiting for this show to arrive I would just love to be able to recommend it to you, but I just can’t.

Trailer (no subtitles):

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