🇸🇪 THIN BLUE LINE 🇸🇪
by Gina Meardon
Thin Blue Line (2021-) is a Swedish crime drama available on Viaplay. 2 seasons of 10 and 8 episodes. Rated 15 U.K.
Premise Season 1:
“An intimate portrayal of the daily life of police officers, where the line between private and professional life blurs out as tensions heighten in the animated and crime-ridden city of Malmö, Sweden.” IMDb
Amanda Jansson as Sara
Oscar Törringe as Magnus
Gizem Erdogan as Leah
Per Lasson as Jesse
Jurek Sawka as Jurek
Anna Sise as Faye
Sandra Stojiljkovic as Danijela
Athena Benér as Siri
Björn Elgerd as Tobias
Robert Bengtsson as Olle
Majken Andersson as Alice
Sanna Ekman as Katrin Hatt
Malou Marnfeldt as Fanny
Mustafa Al-Mashhadani as Khalid
Johannes Lindquist as Osmond
Writers: Cilla Jackert (head writer), Erik Ahrnbom, Walter Behrman, Daniel Karlsson, Babiker Malik, Malin Marmgren
Directors: Mikael Hansson, Anders Hazelius, Sanna Lenken, Maria Eriksson-Hecht
Original Music: Irya Gmeyner, Martin Hederos
Cinematography: Jon Rudberg, Simon Pramsten, Erik Vallsten, Linus Eklund, Ola Magnestam
Filming of season 1 took a total of 137 days between June 2019 and January 2020. All told 400 roles are written into the script with up to 1,000 extras taking part in the recording.
Filmed entirely in Malmö, all the locations mentioned are real except for one, Ekängen (described as the problem area of the city) which is scattered through various locations — it is not any one place but a series of places.
Season One of Thin Blue Line was released in the Nordics on January 17, 2021. I had known about this series and we had been promoting it since its pre-production days. It has been a long, long wait for me to finally get to see it. Thank God we now have Viaplay!
Was it worth the wait?
I will say from the very start of this review, it is an unequivocal yes from me, and I will attempt to explain why.
Thin Blue Line is a character-driven, procedural police series that follows the shift in their daily and home lives, it is NOT a soap! It could be described as Hill Street Blues meets The Wire. Malmö is the beating heart of the show with nearly 100 filming locations around the city — and that is just for season 1.
The police officers are as diverse and multi-cultural as the city itself. We meet them from the perspective of the “new kid on the block” Sara (Amanda Jansson) who has moved down from Northern Sweden, leaving her family, and her long-term boyfriend behind her, for a career with the police. She is paired with the older, more experienced Magnus (Oscar Törringe).
Jesse (Per Lasson) is their commanding officer, holding the department together on a daily basis, he worries and cares for his officers as much as he does for his own family, but in fact, does a better job of holding his officers together than holding onto his family. He cares especially for Leah (Gizem Erdogan), an officer with enormous potential with a difficult family past, which only comes to light in Season 2. She has a close but complicated relationship with her grandfather, Jurek, who raised her and at times she is faced with difficult choices due to his behaviour. Leah has a tough exterior but her life is fraught with issues, both financial and emotional.
Danijela (Sandra Stojiljkovic) and Faye (Anna Sise) also have a complex relationship. They are partners but also lovers and know if they reveal their relationship to Jesse he will have them partnered separately.
Season 1 closely follows the lives of these 6 officers and their families. New faces are brought into season 2 alongside the established characters you have grown to love (or loathe). Everyday life throws challenges at them and you follow them in real-time on the streets, as they deal with crime, local characters and social problems (a lot of social problems) caused by drink and drugs. Gangs and drugs are a big problem in Malmö. For Magnus, it is personal, as we come to realise when we get to know his family and the sister he loves but struggles to have in his life. When we see that side of Magnus we get to understand him more.
The other huge problem that faces Malmö is racism. It is not a subject that is shied away from. Colour and religion feature prominently throughout both seasons, igniting on the streets and within the unit themselves when it becomes clear that some colleagues from different racial and religious backgrounds have very differing views on what constitutes racism/discrimination and how it should be policed.
There are SO many strengths to this show such as fantastic acting by all concerned. You get heavily invested in the characters and their lives which are very different from each other. Sara is a committed Christian who turns to her faith and her church time and again when things get hard and she is tested. Leah resists her Jewish roots and instead finds solace in bars and casual sex, and when life gets really hard, turns to smoking weed to blot out the pain. Magnus has his budgies (honestly, yes, he loves budgies) and Tinder when things get too much. A cop who cares, he cannot understand why he is such a disappointment to his father, an ex-policeman confined to a wheelchair after being injured on duty. And, despite everything, he knows his parents favour his addicted sister over him.
Handheld cameras are used frequently during filming. These bring gritty realism and a sense of menace and danger to the show, especially when the shift is policing a right-wing demonstration or dealing with a horrendous warehouse fire. The way it is filmed makes you, as the viewer, feel that you are there, in the thick of it.
Three elements that really stand out for me are the opening credits, the original music and the innovative use of ‘real-time’ social media ‘chat’ on the screen as events happen.
Let me explain the last element first. The Malmö police are held accountable for everything they do. They stop and search, someone is filming them, they arrest, someone is filming them. Every confrontation, every demonstration, every incident, people have their phones on them and the encounters are immediately uploaded to social media. Jesse runs the Malmö police Twitter account and uploads positives from the day. At night, Magnus pours his heart out on his Facebook page, trying to explain how difficult are the situations that they face.
Social media reacts every time, and those messages, when something happens, scroll up across the TV screen as the characters themselves read the messages on their phones. Social media is addictive and dangerous, to the point that not only are the officers instantly accountable for their actions (even if they haven’t done anything wrong) but they are trolled and named — even their home addresses are given out in these comments. These alone have devastating mental health effects on them.
If I have any criticism of this technique at all it is that for season 1 subtitles were not available for the scrolling messages! This was rectified for season 2.
The opening credits are a joy — a moving visual tapestry of everyday life in the (beautiful) city set against a delightful original soundtrack. These are the real people of Malmö from all walks of life and they have their moment on screen. The original music for the show is sublime. The whole soundtrack is available to download on Spotify, I have it and can thoroughly recommend you take a listen.
Season 3 of Thin Blue Line has been given the go-ahead and it will air in the autumn of 2024. I know it will be worth the wait. No spoilers here, but if you have watched to the shocking end of Season 2 you will be as desperate as I am to return to Malmö and reconnect with the men and women of the Thin Blue Line.
It’s a 10/10 from me.
Kristallen 2021, Kristallen Award Best Programme
Season 1 (no subtitles):
Season 2 (no subtitles):
Opening Credits with Soundtrack:
Thin Blue Line Official Playlist (Spotify):
Also on Facebook is the group More Than Only Walter Presents which has its focus firmly on non-English language TV shows, films, dramas and documentaries: